Blair lacks working recycling program



Blair lacks working recycling program
Montgomery Blair High School
Leaving the party
Public passion
December 15, 2005
Winner of the 2004 National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker
Winner of the 2004 National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker VOL 68 NO 3
Blair lacks working
recycling program
Firemen respond
to fires set in
two Blair bathrooms on Dec.
7 and 8. On
Dec. 7, the fire
alarm sounded
at approximately
1:55 p.m. Regular emergency
procedures were
delayed, but the
2:10 p.m. buses
left according
to schedule. On
Dec. 8, a fire set
during second
period caused
an evacuation
from 7:54 a.m. to
8:40 a.m. School
apprehended the
alleged student
arsonist during
school Dec. 8.
Photos by Jeff
Blair building services
workers have been breaking
county regulations by discarding the majority of the recyclables collected in the school
along with the trash. Building
services workers contended
that their contract does not
obligate them to recycle and
that students must transport
the recycling to avoid overburdening the staff.
Until last week, student
aides in the media center and
department offices facilitated
the only recycling in the building, according to media specialist Lisa Hack, who is cocaptaining the recycling effort
with media specialist Andrea
Lamphier. Meanwhile, the
material placed in the school
recycling bins that student
aides do not empty has been
mixed with trash and placed
into the dumpster by building services workers. “The
custodians don’t do recycling
because it’s not in their job
description,” said Business
Manager Laurie Checco. “If
students aren’t recycling, it’s
not getting done.”
A cooperative effort
According to Dianne Jones,
MCPS director of school plant
operations, the improper disposal of recyclables is not per-
missible. “That is absolutely
not acceptable,” she said. “If
there weren’t students there to
[recycle], then building services certainly could’ve stepped
up to make sure it got done.”
She added that even though
recycling is not specifically
mentioned in building services workers’ contracts, it is
a job that needs to get done
nonetheless for the school to
operate within county regulations.
While Blair has failed to
perform in accordance with
this policy thus far, Jones noted that many county schools
combine student and building
see RECYCLING page 11
Racism hits
Fires prompt evacuations
Arsonist apprehended after fires disrupt class
A student committed three acts of
arson over two days last week and was
apprehended last Thursday. The student faces charges including arson and
malicious burning, according to fire
department officials.
Ninth grade Assistant Principal
James Short affirmed that the student
was responsible for the three fires that
had been set inside girls’ bathrooms at
the school. “We believe that we have
gotten the person who has committed
all the fires,” he said.
Magnet teachers Ralph Bunday and
David Stein noticed and extinguished
a fire in the girls’ bathroom in the 310s
hallway at the beginning of seventh
period on Dec. 7.
At 1:55 p.m. the same day, a second
fire in the girls’ bathroom in the 350s
hallway triggered a fire alarm and
see ARSON page 11
Members of the Board of Education
have called on Blair’s Diversity Workshop
in the aftermath of the October suspension
of a Sherwood sophomore for posting racially insensitive comments on her blog
that administrators found disruptive to the
school environment.
After learning of the incident and reading the student’s blog, Board of Education
member Valerie Ervin talked to social studies teacher Joann Malone, who teaches a
Peace Studies class and sponsors Blair’s
Diversity Workshop. “Valerie asked if it
might be possible for Diversity Workshop
to help,” said Malone, adding that Diversity Workshop is interested in holding a
meeting at Sherwood.
The blog was posted on MySpace, a
web site where individuals can write comments and share pictures. A post entitled
“Black people at Sherwood, yo” caught the
attention of Sherwood administrators (see
graphic, page 11).
One person posted a comment on the
individual’s blog. “I totaly agree with this.
No, im not rascist I just don’t like black people [sic],” the person wrote. The commenter
see SHERWOOD page 11
Blazers fear food stamps cuts
Where only first names appear, names
have been changed to protect the identities of the sources.
Suddenly, her world went dark.
The mounting stress from working
three shifts had induced glaucoma,
an eye disease that causes partial
or total vision loss. She lost her
job because she could not see well
enough to operate a cash register.
But she still had three mouths to
For this single mother and her
two daughters, Emily and Rachel, both freshmen at Blair, the
food stamps program is the last
line of defense against starvation. In a county where 23,025
residents are enrolled in food
stamps as of Nov. 1, according
to the County Department of
‘Tis the season
Christmas decorations adorn the Washington,
D.C., Bishop’s house. Photo by Brandon Herbst
see FOOD STAMPS page 23
Cashing in:
Restaurants in Blair
would solve the
school’s financial
see page 3
The Outlook:
MCPS makes the
transition from
First Class to
Outlook e-mail.
see page 7
Girl power:
From burning
bras to sporting
bunnies: the state
of feminism.
see Centerspread
2002 Blair graduates William Hwang and
Rahul Satija were chosen for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Photos courtesy of Duke University and Silverlogue
Alumni named
Rhodes Scholars
Two Blair graduates were chosen as 2006
Rhodes Scholars, entitling them to a prestigious graduate school scholarship given by
Oxford University in England.
William Hwang and Rahul Satija, 2002
graduates of the Blair Magnet, were two of
32 Americans honored with this scholarship
and are the first two Blair graduates to be
chosen as Rhodes Scholars. Both Hwang and
Satija are currently seniors at Duke University.
The Rhodes Scholarship, which provides
for two to three years of free tuition at Oxford University as well as expenses, was established in 1902 through the will of Cecil
Rhodes and is the oldest international scholarship available to American students. Recipients are selected on the basis of academic
achievement, character and leadership ability.
This year, 903 students from 333 colleges
and universities applied. The two-part application process includes being endorsed by
the applicant’s university and by a state or
the District of Columbia. The Committee of
Selection then chooses the strongest candidates, 216 students this year, for an interview
to determine the finalists.
Previous recipients include former President Bill Clinton and Gen. Wesley Clarke.
The perfect score:
Blazers obsess over
making the grade
without putting in
the time.
see page 25
December 15, 2005
Reforming eligibility
School serves purposes other than education. It is a place of
social gathering, athletic competition, inspiring theatrics and, above
all, an environment for success. But success does not come equally,
and those who are most in need of help are receiving the least. A
commonly overlooked resource for achievement is the influence of
extracurricular activities.
The Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) rejected a
proposal that would have changed the eligibility requirements for
extracurricular activities by giving students with under a 2.0 GPA
the opportunity to attend study hall to increase their GPA while still
participating in extracurricular activities. By rejecting this proposal,
the Board has overlooked a necessary reform and has limited the opportunities available to underperforming students.
After-school activities like sports and music promote physical,
mental and emotional self-improvement, and students who struggle
to find motivation in school often discover their interests through
after-school activities.
In addition, the hours directly following school are the peak time
for gang recruitment and activity, and after-school programs provide
places where students are not exposed to dangerous situations. Students realize the need for such an environment. At the recent County
Council-sponsored Latino Youth Speak Out, students requested safe,
supervised after-school activities where they could connect with
adult role models and avoid gang involvement.
Participation in after-school activities is vital for struggling students, and extracurriculars provide environments that keep students
off the streets. Under the proposal, the benefits of activities would
be reinforced through mandatory attendance to academic support
during the provisional period. The opportunity to pursue individual
interests through activities would motivate students to improve in
academics, hopefully enabling them to surpass the minimum GPA
By contrast, the current eligibility requirements are punitive and
leave no room for flexibility. A student who does not meet the GPA
requirement is immediately cut off from his or her after-school community and must turn elsewhere for support.
The BOE’s rejection seems to ignore that the proposal does not
change the minimum 2.0 GPA requirement, and that it would help
students achieve by motivating them to improve grades and assuring
long-term success. In order to participate in an activity, a student’s
goal will not only be the minimum 2.0 GPA, but continued progress
and improvement.
A clear and successful example already exists. Structured in a
way similar to the proposal, the Blair Sports Academy (BSA) allows
ineligible students to participate in an organized sports activity after
school on the condition that they attend academic support and improve their performance in school.
Junior William Soriano has seen improvements since his participation in the BSA: His grades rose from a .86 to a 2.5 GPA. “They
should do [the BSA program] for all the schools in the county and the
state,” he said.
The BSA has helped many students in improving their grades
and has kept them away from criminal activity. By allowing underperforming students the opportunity to participate in after-school
activities if they attend academic support, the BOE would also be
nurturing students to perform their best. The Board must reconsider
the current eligibility requirements and opt for reform that will challenge every student to achieve his or her full potential.
Montgomery Blair High School
51 University Boulevard East
Silver Spring, MD 20901
Silver Chips phone number: (301) 649-2864
Winner of the 2004 National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker Award
Silver Chips is a public forum for student expression. Student editors make all content decisions. Unsigned editorials represent the views of the editorial board and are not necessarily
those of the school. Signed letters to the editor are encouraged. Submit your letter to Maureen
Freeman’s mailbox in the main office, to room 158 or to [email protected] Concerns about
Silver Chips’s content should be directed to the Ombudsman, the public’s representative to the
paper, at [email protected] Letters may be edited for space or clarity.
Editors-in-Chief...................................................................................................................Pria Anand, Samir Paul
Managing News Editors.........................................................................................Kristi Chakrabarti, Ravi Umarji
Managing Features Editors....................................................................Katy Lafen, Jody Pollock, Chelsea Zhang
Managing Opinions and Editorials Editors.....................................................................Kiran Bhat, Armin Rosen
Managing Sports Editors......................................................................Michael Bushnell, Jonah Gold, Sara Pierce,
...................................................................................................................................................Avi Wolfman-Arent
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Managing Health Editor.............................................................................................................Katherine Duncan
Production Manager........................................................................................................................John Silberholz
Managing Page Editors...................................................................................Lucy Fromyer, Elizabeth Packer
Design Team...............................................................................................Clair Briggs, Emily-Kate Hannapel,
........................................................................................................................Monica Huang, Camille Mackler
Managing Photography Editors.......................................................................Hannah Rosen, Hannah Thresher
Managing Art Editor.........................................................................................................................Lincoln Bostian
Managing Graphics Editor.............................................................................................................Camille Mackler
Public Relations Director...............................................................................................................Elizabeth Packer
Online Coordinator.............................................................................................................................Lucy Fromyer
Ombudsman............................................................................................................................Avi Wolfman-Arent
Fact Check Supervisor.........................................................................................................................Lucy Fromyer
Newsbriefs Editor........................................................................................................................Adam Yalowitz
JV Journal Editor............................................................................................................................Allie O’Hora
Extras Editor.....................................................................................................................................Jeff Guo
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.........................................................................................Jon Berger, Olivia Buzek, Keianna Dixon, Robert Feasley,
.........................................................................................................Jordan Fein, Jeff Guo, Shoshi Gurian-Sherman,
........................................................................................................Jung Han, Kathy Jee, Baijia Jiang, Christine Kim,
............................................................................................Daniel Klein, Audrey Kubetin, Ashley Lau, Jason Meer,
.............................................................................................................Allie O’Hora, Becca Sausville, Justin Vlasits,
..................................................................................................................................Adam Yalowitz, Saron Yitbarek
Spanish Page Editors..................................................................Kathie Arana, Allie O’Hora, Chelsea Zhang
Spanish Page Writers...................................................................................................Jordan Fein, Jason Meer
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..............................................................................................Anna Coughlan, Jordan Goldstein, Amina Goheer,
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Letters to the editor
Letters to the editor may be submitted
to room 158, [email protected]
or Maureen Freeman’s mailbox in the
main office. Letters may be edited for
space or clarity.
Duncan’s true colors
In the Nov. 16 issue of The
Washington Post’s Montgomery
Extra, a spokesman for County Executive Doug Duncan was quoted
as saying that Silver Chips Page
Editor Jordan Fein was merely a
conduit for negative information
being provided by the O’Malley
campaign and that “O’Malley’s opposition research shop is committed to communicating and going
negative with all members of the
media, even high school reporters.”
This was in response to a story
in Silver Chips that expressed
the opinion that Maryland could
do better than Doug Duncan
[“Marylanders deserve better
than Duncan,” page 5, Nov. 10]. I
believe Doug Duncan has insulted
the integrity of Mr. Fein and of the
award-winning Silver Chips newspaper. A gracious answer on Mr.
Duncan’s part would be something
like “we disagree with the writer’s
opinion.” There was no need for
the Duncan campaign to question
the integrity or judgment of the
publication. Indeed, in this case,
it is Mr. Duncan and his campaign
who are going negative.
-Jim Burnetti, Blair parent
A missed connection
tory in the summer of 2004 as a
result of legal action brought by
a Blair parent. The BOE rationale
was simple — making it mandatory adds a graduation requirement for those who are required to
take it, and schools aren’t allowed
to add graduation requirements
(the BOE decides them). The exclusion of the Communication Arts
Program (CAP) and Magnet ninth
graders from Connections at Blair
highlighted the arbitrariness of the
Two years ago (the course is in
its fourth year and had different
designers for each of the first three)
Connections at its best was a study
hall. Maybe that contributed to the
GPA increase reported. However,
the efforts of the ninth grade teams
this past year may have had more
to do with that increase.
There are heartening signs at
Blair that parents and students may
be invited to contribute to a planning process that will make Blair’s
Connections course the best that it
can be for the students who want
to take it. But why would students
from the elite academies (CAP and
Magnet) be telling their classmates
that they should take a study skillsstudy hall class that may potentially weaken their transcripts and
delay their engagement in Blair’s
amazing set of electives?
The elective track provided to
CAP students in the ninth and 10th
grades paves their way on to the
Silver Chips staff and other opportunities at Blair and beyond. It’s
hardly reasonable to suggest that
other students should delay their
own pursuit of such opportunities
to “integrate” Connections.
I was very sorry to see some of
the weakest rationalizations for a
mandatory Connections class revived by an editorial in the October
Silver Chips [“Board of Education,
don’t break Connections,” page 2,
Oct. 6]. When my son arrived at
Blair three years ago, we were told
he had to take a required yearlong Connections class because
he needed it on account of only
being an honors student. We were
also told that the school needed
him to take Connections for social
integration reasons and because the
school’s schedule couldn’t accommodate more choice.
The story missed in the editorial
is why the schools in the DCC delayed announcing that the Board of
Education (BOE) had determined
Connections couldn’t be manda-
Besides being of limited news
value given the fact that pot culture
is nothing new, “Blairijuana”
[“Blairijuana: The other Blair Blazers,” page 16, Nov. 10] by Armin
Rosen sadly and irresponsibly
celebrated the use and abuse of
marijuana. Lamentably, “Blairijuana” downplayed the long term
effects of drug and alcohol abuse
and failed to expose readers to the
perspectives of recovering addicts
and the devastation they often
cause their family members and
While the article specifically
The Nov. 10 article “Mired in
the Blair bureaucracy” contained
a factual error. The article stated
that Principal Phillip Gainous
had heard that special-education
teachers did not attend mandatory
-Ron McClain, Blair parent
Light treatment — heavy topic
mentions the health risks, biological effects of its active ingredient
and clearly documents the fading
mental capacity of its users through
a repetitive list of unintelligible
quotes, it also glows with peer approval of the use of marijuana. It
uses pseudonyms such as “ganja,”
“weed” and “blazin,” references to
popular songs and graphics that
would be more appropriate on
a Three 6 Mafia CD cover than a
school newspaper spread.
Most hardcore drug addicts
don’t wake up one morning and
decide to inject heroin — it is a
slow process of experimentation
and peer approval that builds the
user’s confidence, convincing them
that they can handle the next step
on the ladder towards more potent
and mind-altering substances.
Many begin using drugs and
alcohol in pursuit of a cheap
social in. Others self-medicate on
marijuana and alcohol to deal with
outside issues such as depression,
isolation and insecurity. Both
self-medication and social use by
adolescents can lead to dependency that is psychologically altering
and progressively more difficult to
The abuse of marijuana, alcohol
and other drugs is an escapist retreat for those too selfish to witness
and help the world around them.
It often isolates people from what
and who they care about most in
their lives. Perhaps Silver Chips
should visit a drug rehab facility,
Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meeting or a morgue in next
month’s edition in order to provide
the perspectives of other drug and
alcohol users.
If you know of someone at Blair
who might suffer from drug addiction or is on a path toward addiction, please take the time to assist
them in getting help by submitting
their name to the Student Assistance Team at Blair (MSAT). MSAT
contacts the student’s parents or
guardians and notifies them of
the possible risks of drug use in
addition to connecting them to a
professional drug use evaluation
team. Names are turned over to
neither administrators nor the police, and the process is completely
confidential. MSAT drop-off boxes
are located in the main office and
the media center.
-Marc Grossman,
Blair social studies teacher,
MSAT Member
meetings. In fact, Gainous had
heard that teachers did not attend
special-education meetings.
December 15, 2005
Eating away at Blair’s financial shortcomings
Restaurant within school’s walls would be a viable solution to ongoing cash shortage
An opinion
When the new Blair building
first opened in 1998, ridiculous
rumors about the high school
flew around the county. It was
the biggest high school in the U.S.
It had a swimming pool. And a
McDonald’s was stationed right
inside the school.
That last one might seem like
the most far-fetched, but product
placement is rampant in public
schools: The vending machines
plastered with “Pepsi” and the
Boardwalk fries that the cafeteria
sells are just two examples.
The school’s contract with
Pepsi funded the purchase of the
new digital security system over
the summer, which was responsible for the apprehension of last
fall’s notorious graffiti vandals. However, if Blair loses the
Pepsi contract that expires in 2007,
which is probable due to a sharp
decline in sales, necessities such
as textbooks and new computers would be without a source of
funding. Allowing restaurants to
operate in Blair would provide
income for such projects — money
the school desperately needs.
Money is power
When schools don’t receive
enough money from the county,
they have three options: petitioning the county to raise taxes,
soliciting parent donations or resorting to commercial advertising.
Raising taxes can’t significantly
increase the amount of money
schools get because Montgomery
County already spends almost 50
percent of its operating budget on
schools; any additional money a
realistic tax increase would generate would be insignificant com-
pared to the amount the County is
already spending on education.
In affluent areas, parent donations can bridge the gap between
what schools are getting and
what they need. According to the
Public School Review, Churchill’s
zip code has a median income
over twice that of Blair’s. This
enormous disparity in incomes
results in a staggering difference in the amount of money
each school’s PTSA receives from
membership dues and donations.
The Churchill PTSA has received
$35,000 in membership dues alone
this year, while the Blair PTSA
has accumulated just over $10,000
from membership fees and independent donations combined.
With nearly four times as much
money, Churchill’s PTSA is able
to fund resources that Blair’s can’t
even dream of buying. According to Churchill PTSA President
Robyn Solomon, the money her
organization has received this year
is being spent on expensive liquid
crystal display computer monitors and TI-83 projectors. Blair,
on the other hand, is struggling
with the basics: Much of Blair’s
PTSA money that isn’t distributed
through mini-grants is being spent
on translation equipment and on
building a water fountain, according to Sonya Mallinoff, the Blair
PTSA treasurer.
So, since taxes won’t create
enough money and parents can’t
afford to donate, schools like Blair
have a third and final option:
commercial advertising. While all
schools employ some advertising
through vending machines, Blair
needs more drastic methods because all other sources of income
have proved to be insufficient.
To gain significant increases in
income, Blair could enter into contract deals with restaurants like
those with Pepsi, in which profits
are shared between the school and
the company.
If the throngs of students that
flock to McDonald’s and Starbucks after school are any indication, opening a restaurant inside
of Blair would be a lucrative
investment. Just as the vending
machine profits allowed Blair to
purchase security equipment and
updated textbooks, putting a restaurant in the school would finally
give Blair the money it needs to
foster a safe and enriching learning environment.
Chewing the fat
It’s clear that having a restaurant in a school makes good
financial and practical sense, but
legally, the Board of Education’s
nutritional policy, which attempts to ensure that foods sold
in schools are healthy, remains a
major obstacle. Such regulations,
established in March 2004, would
no doubt extend to any food a
restaurant serves in school. However, there are viable and healthy
restaurants that could be placed
in Blair.
Consider Chicken Out, which
has 31 entrees and side orders
with fewer than 4.5 grams of
saturated fat. While the MCPS
nutritional policy mandates that
every snack sold from vending machines has fewer than
two grams of saturated fat, this
number must be examined in
proportion to the size of the meal.
A snack is significantly smaller
than a sandwich or chicken breast.
It follows that while the full meal
will have more saturated fat, it
will also be loaded with other
nutrients as well, giving the food
a high health value. Chicken Out
is by no means the only restaurant
healthy option; Subway also has
a variety of choices that meet the
Board’s requirements.
The corporate reality
Still, opponents of in-school
restaurants choose to ignore the
potential funding for education,
claiming that excessive advertising would hurt the school’s atmosphere. “Schools are traditionally
thought of as open, free-thinking
environments,” Media in Society
teacher Paul Irvin argues. “When
you open to sell, you’re taking
away free thought and choice.
Most people don’t have a problem
with that because they’re so brainwashed by culture and society.”
In a perfect world, Blair could
avoid advertising completely, but
this is simply unrealistic. Adver-
tising is everywhere, from the
computers with Apple and Dell
logos to pens and pencils with
“Bic” on the sides. The advertising that allows Blair to make vital
purchases, while much more
obvious, is also much more useful.
To sacrifice such basic necessities
as security cameras and textbooks
for the sake of abstract and practically insignificant principles is
sheer stubbornness.
Considering how the profits
from vending machines paid
dividends almost immediately
with the capture of the graffiti
vandals and the possibility that
those profits may dry up within
two years, it’s clear that the need
for a new source of income is critical. To function more smoothly
and safely, Blair must invest in
in-school restaurants.
Fazed by the misguided craze over snow days
MCPS’s tendency to call off school at the sight of flurries creates problems for parents, teachers
An opinion
Don’t bother buying new snow boots
for school this winter — you won’t need
them. Apparently, students aren’t capable
of getting to school in anything deeper than
a quarter-inch of snow, or so it seems from
the number of closures and delays given
each year for less than inclement weather.
While there’s a lot to love about a snow
day — an extra day of rest, a chance to
sleep late, a break from school — there’s
a big problem with the way cancellations
and delays are announced at the drop of
a flurry. On the surface, snow days are
everything sweet — but take another look,
or just peer out the window, and it becomes
clear that MCPS needs to re-examine its
snow day policy.
It would be one thing to call for school
cancellations if we lived in a county that
put no effort into emergency preparation.
But Montgomery County is amply prepared
for any weather inconvenience: The county
currently has 200 highway maintenance
employees and contractors with 195 pieces
of snow removal equipment, according to
the Montgomery County Department of
Public Works and Transportation.
These emergency preparations are
intended to make the roads safe for access.
But if safety justifies these numerous delays
and cancellations, then MCPS has superficially extended the definition of “safety.”
We live in an imperfect world, and the
Freshmen enjoy the snow on Dec. 4 in the SAC courtyard. But misguided cancellations often spell headaches for both parents and teachers. Photo by Nic Lukehart
safety of students will always be an issue.
But there comes a point at which the disadvantages created for parents by closures
and delays far outweigh the need for overzealous “precautionary safety measures.”
Before giving in to a slight dusting
of snow or those infamously unreliable
weather report predictions, MCPS should
consider the burdens school cancellations
and delays create. Working parents across
the county must take snow days off, potentially losing pay or leave time.
According to MCPS demographics,
43 percent of all students are currently
enrolled in grades pre-kindergarten to five.
Because it is against the law for children
under eight to stay home alone, parents are
forced to take time off from work to care for
their children on snow days. This includes
parents of children enrolled in MCPS daycare centers following the MCPS closings.
MCPS is very diverse, and county families range from blindingly wealthy to barely
subsisting. For the parents of the 23.2
percent of MCPS students receiving Free
and Reduced Meals, missing a day of work
means losing that day’s pay. Snow days
place a huge burden on parents who scrape
by working jobs that pay by the hour.
The process MCPS uses to determine
school closings or delays begins as early as
3 a.m. with a team of nine transportation
safety supervisors who drive prescribed
routes in all parts of the county, according to Stephen Raucher, director of the
Department of Transportation. Though it
is understandable that resolutions must be
made early enough to accommodate high
schools, conditions can change during the
six hours from 3 a.m. to the start of elementary schools at 9:15 a.m. Weather predictions fluctuate, while precipitation may
dwindle or not even occur at all. Imagine
the frustration of working parents waking
up to find a school closure and almost no
Not only do these unnecessary cancellations pose an inconvenience to parents,
but they can also prove to be a barrier to
students’ educations. Granted, when a
massive storm the size of the 1996 blizzard
is due to arrive, teachers can plan in advance and give students assignments ahead
of time to keep up with lessons. However,
because teachers cannot always predict
when MCPS will call a snow day, classroom
lessons are often hindered by superfluous
delays and cancellations.
During the 2003-2004 school year, MCPS
lost a total of 10 school days because of
weather inclemency. Many argue that
adding days onto the end of the school
year is an appropriate solution to ensure
students receive the full 180 days required.
However, extending the school year into
summer break does little to compensate for
individual days lost during the winter. For
the most part, the last few days of class are
often spent watching movies or wrapping
up end-of-the-year projects, not learning
new material. As English teacher Carole
Tomayko puts it, “By that time, students
have mentally checked out.” Tacking
missed days onto the end of the year is especially ineffective for AP classes that finish
material before the AP tests in May.
This is not to say that school cancellations or delays shouldn’t be called when
they are justly needed. MCPS, however,
needs to be more careful in calling snow
days so that parents and teachers are not
disadvantaged by unnecessary cancellations. Snow days are golden and sacred to
students, but they should be granted on the
basis of necessity and not at the threat of a
passing flurry.
December 15, 2005
Ethiopian crisis
Easy solutions can spark change
improvement in the continent.
Blair hoped that Zenawi would
lead his country on the path to
The pale white stone steps of
democracy. But since he has
the Black Lion Hospital in Adviolated fundamental human
dis Ababa are soaked with the
rights, Great Britain should strip
blood of Ethiopians killed or inhim of his title and condemn
jured by their own government.
his actions. To date, neither has
Thirty-six died in protests this
past June. Eighty have been
The people of Ethiopia seek
killed since then.
more aid for political refugees
Some have been punished
and those wounded in protests.
for speaking out against a corInstead of giving money to a
rupt leader who uses his power
corrupt government, the global
to permanently silence opposicommunity should send aid to
tion and maintain complete
organizations working directly
control. Some were wrongly
with the Ethiopian people in
targeted as protesters, caught
their stuggle against their
at the wrong place at the wrong
nation’s repressive leadership.
time and paying with their
This will ensure that aid money
is used for its intended purBut all of them know the deposes and not be abused by the
struction emblematic of Ethiogovernment.
pian President Meles Zenawi’s
Since Zenawi came to power
rule, and all have begged for the in 1991, the U.S. has sent a
democratic rights that so many
total of $21 billion in aid to the
Americans take for granted.
Ethiopian government, hoping
Yet after numerous demonstrathe new leader would create
tions, protests and petitions,
a healthy democracy for his
the world’s powers do little in
country. So far the only acresponse to Ethiopia’s crisis.
tion the U.S. has taken against
May 15 marked the first
the Zenawi government is a
democratic presidential election
lukewarm threat of cutting off
in Ethiopian history. The milaid payments. But this threat,
lions of Ethiopians who came
made months ago, means very
out to vote in what they thought little to a leader who is capable
would be a fair election did not
of killing his own people to stay
foresee the death and terror that in power, especially one who
would result from it. When
already has accumulated milvotes were counted, 90 percent
lions of dollars from 14 years of
of voters in Addis Ababa alone
corrupt rule.
chose the opposition party, the
Although the conflict is
Coalition for Unity and Democpractically unknown to most
racy. That should have ended
Americans, some have started
Zenawi’s reign on its own,
to recognize Ethiopia’s dire situbut he stopped the vote count
ation. Senator Paul Sarbanes
and falsely
declared his
wrote a letter
party victorito Secretary of
State CondoEthiopians
leezza Rice
do not ask
that foreign
that the adnations bring
troops or
work to stop
arms to fight
the current
for them, and
violence and
much simpler
help Ethiopia
steps can be
a real
-U.S. Senator achieve
taken to end
democracy. “I
Paul Sarbanes am gravely
the monthslong standoff.
The first
about the
would be to acknowledge that
government’s indiscriminate
the current ruler hurts rather
targeting of citizens,” wrote Sarthan helps the Ethiopian people. banes, “and the fact that many
The United States and Great
have been detained without
Britain both count on Zenawi
charge or trial, in violation of
as an ally in the war on terrordue process.”
ism. British Prime Minister
With this alarming informaTony Blair appointed Zenawi
tion, the world must take action
to the Commission of Africa,
to end a regime guilty of the
a group of 17 leaders dediviolation of its people’s basic
cated to self-rule and economic
human rights.
An opinion
“Many have
been detained
without charge
or trial.”
Have a confession or secret you want to share with the world? Pick up an index card in room
158, decorate it with your most treasured secret and submit it anonymously in the Silver Chips
“PostSecret” box. Be sure to check out Frank Warren’s traveling “PostSecret” exhibition in
Georgetown, at the old Staples store. The collection will be on display through Jan. 8.
Legend used, concept abused
Journalists should not be manipulated by shielded sources
An opinion
In the mid-1970s, journalistic
icon, author and Washington Post
reporter Bob Woodward was rising
to the pinnacle of his profession.
His perseverant reporting had unmasked the corruption of the Nixon
administration, and he was enjoying the benefits. Among them were
increasingly cozy relationships with
Washington insiders.
Sometime during the subsequent
30 years, Woodward grew unusually close to his new friends.
On Nov. 16, The Washington Post reported on his Nov. 14
testimony before a federal grand
jury investigating the leak of CIA
agent Valerie Plame’s identity to
members of the media. According
to The Post, an anonymous source
informed Woodward of Plame’s
identity almost one month before a
syndicated column by Robert Novak officially blew her cover. For
two years, Woodward maintained
a lie of omission, failing to tell his
superiors at The Post about the important piece of information he had
acquired until October 2005.
While Woodward maintains
the respect of his peers, his recent
actions and poor defense of them
are a disgrace to his profession, and
his handling of the unnamed source
shows a blatant disregard for the
virtues that he so stridently worked
for during Watergate.
Woodward’s role is integral to
the ongoing Plame saga. In July
2003, an anti-war opinion piece by
former Ambassador Joseph Wilson,
Plame’s husband, appeared in The
New York Times. In an attempt to
discredit Wilson, who had been in
Niger investigating claims that Saddam Hussein pursued uranium for
nuclear weapons, administration
officials leaked Plame’s name to as
many as seven reporters, claiming
that she specifically recommended
that Wilson be sent to Niger.
The Justice Department promised an investigation into the leak
one week after Novak’s column
was published. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald opened the
investigation in December 2003,
and his federal grand jury began
questioning administration officials
in January 2004.
Woodward, who, despite the
circumstances surrounding the
leak, maintains that he never felt
manipulated by his sources, ought
to have done what he would have
done 30 years ago: torpedo relationships with sources and alert not
just Post Executive Editor Leonard
Downie, Jr., but also the public to
the administration’s misconduct.
In the days following his appearance before the grand jury, Woodward went on national television to
defend himself. On CNN’s Larry
King Live on Nov. 21, Woodward
said that the reason he did not
mention his knowledge to anyone
was that he was “trying to avoid
being subpoenaed.” Going before
the grand jury meant revealing his
sources, and Woodward did not
want to compromise his relationships with powerful people.
In refraining from publishing the
names of his sources, Woodward is
shielding officials from the consequences they deserve. Woodward
has become complicit in the Plame
cover-up, helping to delay the discovery of wrongdoing.
A titan of journalism has lost
sight of the purpose of media: to encourage transparency by informing
the public of government actions.
Reporters cannot handcuff themselves with confidentiality rules
while being pushed around by the
very sources they protect.
Those who leaked Plame’s name
cheapened the value of a free press
and, as a result, damaged their own
credibility by using the media as a
tool of political retribution. They
must be revealed, charged and
brought to justice.
Clanging cowbell demeans freshmen, irritates everybody else
Patronizing instrument an affront to freshman dignity, ineffective in getting students to class on time
An opinion
The clanging of a cowbell sounds in
the hallway one minute before the official
bell. It would make sense if this were a
Great Plains cattle ranch, the set of a western movie, a cattle auction, a dairy farm,
Damascus or any other place cows are typically found.
But Blair, lacking everyone’s favorite
lactating, cud-chewing, four-stomached
mammals, has turned to what at first seems
like the next best thing: freshmen. A closer
look, however, reveals that even though the
cowbell is well-intentioned, it’s not just out
of place — it’s insulting.
This substitution of freshmen for cattle
began last year when teacher Hunter
Hogewood decided that the ninth graders
in the new freshman wing needed an extra
reminder to get to class on time. He came
up with the idea of ringing the long, hollow
percussion instrument to herd the ninth
graders to class.
Although ninth graders are easily tipped
over and disoriented, they are not cows,
although the cowbell suggests otherwise.
It implies that freshmen share some rather
unflattering characteristics with cattle: specifically, lack of intelligence and an inability
to move in a specified direction without
outside prodding.
But the cowbell is more than just a subtle
dig at freshman maturity — it is also a dig
at freshman humanity. It goes against the
notion that people act like adults when
treated like adults. A cowbell does not
scream “responsible adult.” It screams
Instead of sending the message that
freshmen should be respected as emerging
members of the adult world, the cowbell
suggests that they are incapable of getting
to class.
“The cowbell is pretty stupid. Just
because we are freshmen doesn’t mean we
have no sense of how long eight minutes
is,” says freshman Andrew McGehee.
Ironically, the cowbell has also proven
detrimental to freshman time management
skills. Social studies teacher Robert Gibb,
a former bell ringer, likens the cowbell to
Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov’s experiment
in which he trained dogs to drool at the
sound of a bell.
Gibb explains that freshmen began to
wander farther off during passing time
and relied on the cowbell as a signal to
start heading to class. When the teachers
forgot to bang the bell, freshmen would use
it as an excuse for being late. The cowbell
therefore allows ninth graders to avoid
shouldering the responsibility of being their
own time keepers.
Freshmen are legitimate members of the
Blair community and should be treated as
such. If a cowbell is inappropriate to use
for the entirety of Blair, as it most certainly
is, then it is just as degrading and insulting
when applied to ninth graders. Cowbells
should be left to the cows.
December 15, 2005
Have you ever done a Sudoku
What message do you think girls send when they wear Playboy
What makes it fun?
see story, page 26
see story, Centerspread
“Sudoku puzzles are fun, yet a challenge. When I finally
solve the puzzle, I get excited and feel proud of my accomplishment. But on the other hand, you then realize that
you just wasted three good hours doing a puzzle that you
don’t even get a prize for finishing.”
-sophomore Juliet Huang
“By wearing Playboy clothing, girls are associating themselves with the Playboy
message and reputation, which is one of promiscuity and, potentially, sexual exploitation. When a girl wears Playboy clothing, she’s basically labeling herself as a sex
object and advertising the use of her body for sex.”
-senior Roxana Marquez
“It shows tackiness. If you are not in Playboy, then you shouldn’t wear the
clothes. Half of the girls just wear it to make themselves seem like something
they’re not.”
-sophomore Charnika Walker
“I have done a Sudoku
puzzle. They offer an
interesting challenge since
there is a different level of
difficulty each time.”
-junior Gerard
“Do you wonder if every guy that wears Nike plays basketball? No. Girls send no
message when they wear Playboy except that they like the brand and are willing to pay money to wear it.”
-senior Joel Popkin
“I’ve never done a
Sudoku puzzle, and I
don’t ever plan to. The
guys at my lunch table do them all the
time, but I don’t see
the point. I guess
it’s a nice challenge,
but don’t they have
enough homework
to do already?”
-senior Ngoclan
How should people who have sex at
see story, page 19
“Having sex in school is just immoral. We are supposed to be learning, not fooling around, since this is an
educational community. Besides, if they choose to do it in a secluded hallway, they will probably be caught
on a security camera. I’m not sure how students should be punished. If they are given suspensions, they will
probably have sex some other place. If they can’t control themselves in school, what’s going to stop them
outside of school?”
-sophomore Nancy Pham
“I became very addicted to Sudoku puzzles
over the summer when I was cooped up in a very
boring office job. It got to the point when I was doing
13 by 13 boxes. Many of my friends now do the puzzles at
lunch and during class instead of doing their work.”
-senior Morgan Luker
“Students should not be punished. They should be awarded, or at least given a high five. If they’ve got the
guts to have sex on school property, good for them.”
-senior Clare Marshall
“Although I don’t know why people would want to have sex at Blair, if they do they shouldn’t be punished.
The embarrassment of having a faculty member walking in on them will be punishment enough.”
-senior Sydney Valdez
Is violence among girls a problem at Blair?
What’s the worst
see story, page 19
“Five words: ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas.’ I mean, honestly, the Jim
Carey adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s classic book was nothing but 90 minutes of my
life and $5 flushed down the toilet.”
-sophomore Stefan Reckson
“I don’t think that violence among girls is a problem. There are plenty of arguments among
girls, but most of the time they don’t turn into
physical fights.”
-senior Emmy Frenz
“The worst holiday movie I’ve
seen was ‘Reindeer Games,’
where Ben Affleck goes home for
the holidays to
impress his girlfriend.
The premise of a man renting a family to impress a
girl was confusing.”
-senior Jordan Johnson
“Even though it doesn’t seem like it,
girl violence is a problem at Blair.
Stereotypically, girls just yell and
call each other names, but there
have been several actual fights
here. Just like violence among
boys, girl violence is an issue at
Blair that needs attention. ”
-sophomore Katie Scott
“The worst holiday movie
ever has to be any movie
ever made by channels like
Lifetime and ABC Family.
They are really dumb and end
up all being the same.”
-senior Mark Italiano
“Violence is a problem within the girls at Blair. Girls
have a need to protect themselves and their reputations, and
they care too much about what other people think. Just because someone
looked at someone or someone misinterpreted something, they want to fight.”
-sophomore Luda Elias
“The worst holiday film is ‘Grandma Got Hit by a Reindeer.’ It was a ridiculous
film, and the only funny part is the title.”
-sophomore Michelle Lopez
laps around the track would be needed to burn
the calories in an average Thanksgiving meal
holiday film you have seen?
see story, online
“I have heard a lot about fights among girls. I think that girls fight for stupid
reasons that could be easily avoided. It puts a bad reputation on girls because then
people think all girls are full of drama.”
-sophomore Taylor Green
Blair be punished?
fire sprinklers are currently installed in
the Blair building
percent of Blazers will not be getting flu shots
this year
dollars is the average cost of Blair’s
monthly electricity bill
screws were used in the set of Twelfth
Night, Blair’s 2005 fall play
is the total number of keyboard
keys at Blair
percent of Blazers pronounce the word “nuclear” as George Bush does: “NOO-kyoo-lar”
is the total area, in square feet, of
Blair’s white boards
Compiled by Jeff Guo. Additional reporting by Soraya Chanyasubkit, Sam Du, Wenbo Dou, Hareesh Ganesan, Priyanka Gokhale, David Jia, David Li, Nancy
Pham, Sara Ramsay, Iliya Smithka, Boris Vassilev, Cynthia Xu, Julie Zhu and Eli Zvares. Informal surveys of 100 students taken during the week of Nov. 28.
Quote of the issue
“[Armstrong’s] blood got
onto my shirt and the stain
won’t never come off.”
Julissa Rogers
see “Lady Blazers lock horns,”
page 19
December 15, 2005
Teachers lobby for retirement benefits
December 15, 2005
MCEA and state teachers union hold meeting to push for an increase in teacher pensions
The Montgomery County Education Association’s (MCEA) Annual Legislative Breakfast on Dec.
3 focused on teacher pension as
part of a state teachers’ union push
to improve retirement benefits.
The meeting, held at the Montgomery County Convention Center, attracted over 1,000 people
including teachers and local legislators. The large turnout “sends a
demanding message that we need
pension reform now,” said MCEA
President Bonnie Cullison, who
had hoped that at least 300 people
would attend.
Closing the gap
The breakfast gave teachers the
chance to hear from and speak to
their local legislators to bring the
issue of teacher pension to the
forefront of Maryland’s legislative
agenda. “School employees are
fed up with the miserable teacher
benefits in Maryland,” said Cullison at the breakfast. “The time
has come to do something about
it. If Mississippi, Alabama and
Louisiana can provide better pen-
employees are
fed up.”
-MCEA President
Bonnie Cullison
sion, so can Maryland.” Currently,
Maryland ranks last nationally for
the pension amount provided by
the state.
The Maryland State Teacher’s
Association (MSTA) will propose a
reform bill next year to the Maryland General Assembly. The bill
would raise the final pension after 30 years from 38 percent to 60
percent for all educators, including
teachers, administrators, building
services workers and bus drivers,
according to Cullison.
The three main goals of the bill
are to increase pension benefits,
apply the benefits to all years of
service and have a reasonable contribution by teachers to their pension, said Abby Hendrix, co-chair
of the MCEA Political Action and
Legislative Support Committee, at
the convention.
Teachers receive a percentage of
their average highest salary from
three consecutive years, known as
the Average Final Compensation,
of teaching towards retirement
from the state. Full pension is
based on 30 years of service. After that time, Maryland teachers
annually receive about 38 percent
of their Average Final Compensation.
Legislators representing Montgomery County who attended
the breakfast all voiced their support of increasing pension because
of the importance of teachers in
maintaing strong statewide education programs. The legislators also
emphasized that the support of the
other 22 counties in Maryland is
needed to change the existing legislative program.
The issue of teacher pensions
is “not big enough” at Blair, said
English resource teacher Vickie
Adamson, who was one of eight
Blair teachers to attend the breakfast. The amount of activism at
Blair is relatively low partly because many teachers believe that
there is not much they can do to
initiate change, according to Leslie
Backus, one of Blair’s MCEA representatives. Teachers primarily
“focus their energies on the immediate; that’s where their attention
is,” she said.
If teachers do not plan for the
future, the current system may not
be enough to bring them financial
security in the long run, according
to Backus. “Most young teachers
are worried about money. They
have to set up their own retirement.
If they don’t think to do that, they
will be in serious trouble,” Backus
According to the MSTA, efforts
Teachers listen to the MCEA President speak on teacher pension reform at the MCEA Annual Legislative Breakfast at the Montgomery County Convention Center on Dec. 3. Photo by Jeff Lautenberger
to increase pension rates have been
ongoing since 1998, as the group
feared the consequences of poor
benefits on retaining and recruiting high-quality teachers. “It’s important for us that educators want
to commit a lifetime to this profession,” said Cullison.
Previous efforts
Delegate Jean Cryor (R-district
15) explained that she has been
hearing about pension reform for
the past four or five years, but that
the issue was especially strong in
last year’s session.
Last year, the Teachers’ and
Local Employees’ Retirement Enhancement Act of 2005 died in
committee in both the House and
Senate, disappointing many teachers. “It’s a shame teachers are held
hostage to the budget,” said Delegate Henry Heller (D-district 19).
The bill had included measures
to change the formula used to calculate retirement allowances, but
it did not pass due to “budgetary
concerns,” according to Delegate
Adrienne Mandel (D-district 19),
who joined the 95 delegates out of
141 to cosponsor the bill. It takes
more than a year to bring a bill to
its correct format and gain support
from the rest of the General Assembly, she explained.
The Budget Reconciliation and
Financing Act of 2005 addressed
the issue of teacher pension, stating that teacher pension reform
is “necessary to retain and maintain a high quality workforce.” It
also created a Joint Committee on
Pensions to study the condition of
teacher pension and develop legislation to improve it in 2006.
Exodus of teachers
The MSTA hopes that Maryland’s $1.2 billion budget surplus
and its designation as America’s
third wealthiest state, according to
The Baltimore Sun, will aid pension reform efforts for next year.
The surplus has caused the
MSTA to intensify its efforts to
increase benefits. Even though
Cryor believes that changes will be
made next year, legislators cannot
guarantee a sustained benefit plan
based on the current budget. “You
can’t do pension on one year’s
good news. Things look promising; I’m optimistic that pension
will be reformed,” she said.
The state of Maryland produc-
es about 2,000 new teachers each
year, but an additional 6,000 teachers must be recruited from other
states annually, which may prove
increasingly difficult if benefits are
not enhanced, Heller said. Losing
a teacher costs about $100,000 per
district, and Maryland loses nearly
7,000 of its 62,000 teachers annually, according to the MSTA.
Pennsylvania offers almost
twice Maryland’s final percentage
for its pension plan and is ranked
second in the country, but teachers
themselves add a higher percentage to their retirement accounts
than teachers in Maryland. By raising the annual pension amount to
60 percent, Maryland would move
to about 20th in national ranking,
which would make it more “competitive with other states,” said
Daniel Kaufman, communication
director of the MSTA.
Retaining quality teachers is
critical for improving student
achievement, said Kaufman. If
other states have more attractive
benefit packages, teachers go elsewhere for employment. “Good
teachers are not coming to Maryland, even if salaries are lower
[elsewhere]. That’s just good professional planning,” said Cullison.
Workshops for magnets held MCPS switches to Outlook
Event aids students with application process
Two Magnet application workshops
were held last month as part of an ongoing effort by MCPS to increase diversity
in the county’s Magnet programs.
The sessions, held at White Oak and
Gaithersburg, gave parents and students
the opportunity to hear an overview of
the application process and to speak with
MCPS staff.
Melanie Bachrach, an instructional
specialist at the MCPS Division of Consortia Choice and Application Program
Services, led the meetings, explaining
the proper procedures for answering application questions. “We weren’t talking about how to get into the programs,
but we did provide helpful information
on the applications,” she said. Applications covered in the workshops included
those for Center Programs for the Highly
Gifted at elementary schools, middleschool magnets at Eastern, Takoma Park
and Roberto Clemente, the International
Baccalaureate Program at Richard Montgomery and Blair’s magnet.
According to Blair Magnet coordinator Eileen Steinkraus, who attended
a meeting, many of the attendees were
newly immigrated parents who had little
knowledge of the options offered to gifted students. “We’ve done a lot more outreach to those parents of kids new to the
country and the county,” she said. Translators were available for Chinese, French,
Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese speakers with limited English proficiency.
The workshops were co-sponsored
by MCPS and the Montgomery County
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Parents’ Council.
Crystal DeVance, a secretary at the council, approached Bachrach about advertising for this year’s meetings because only
15 to 20 people attended last year. Approximately 300 individuals came to the
White Oak workshop, while at least 400
turned out for the Gaithersburg meeting,
according to Bachrach.
The workshops were part of a concerted effort by MCPS to promote diversity
in gifted programs. The Blair Magnet
partnered with Richard Montgomery’s
International Baccalaureate program
two years ago to release a booklet that
helped students unfamiliar with Magnet testing prepare for the types of questions they could expect. The Division
of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction
also distributed 60,000 copies of a direct mail pamphlet entitled “Options,”
which publicized the special programs
that minority students and parents
may have previously been unaware of.
As part of county efforts to integrate
see WORKSHOPS page 9
All Blair staff e-mail accounts switched
from FirstClass to Outlook on Dec. 1 in accordance with a countywide transition that
is set to occur over the course of this school
year, according to an MCPS informational
brochure entitled “Outlook at MCPS.”
The county is changing e-mail programs
for several reasons; foremost among them
is Outlook’s versatility and compatibility
with other software and hardware now on
the market and in use in MCPS, according to
Cary Kuhar, director of the MCPS Division
of Systems Architecture and Operation.
Other reasons for the switch include Outlook’s rise as the dominant e-mail software
among schools and businesses and its multiple advantages over FirstClass, said Kuhar.
To adjust to the switch, all staff members
reported for training at three separate locations around the building on Dec. 1. MCPS
representatives instructed teachers in how
to log in, change passwords and receive and
send e-mail, according to Jennifer Lamb, one
of the representatives.
Although help from the MCPS representatives eased the transition to Outlook, steps
taken by Blair also contributed to the success
of the switch, said User Support Specialist
Anne Wisniewski.
Despite the efforts of MCPS representatives and Blair technology staff, English resource teacher Vickie Adamson remained
unsatisfied with the training. Adamson was
part of a group of representatives from each
department that went to an intensive threehour training session and in the following
week were responsible for helping their fel-
low department teachers with the switch.
Even after the Outlook training, Adamson
felt unprepared, since the MPCS representatives did not take into account the different
learning styles of the teachers involved and
did not go over the different formats of Outlook for Macintosh and Windows computers, she said.
Adamson’s frustration with the switch
“I don’t necessarily
see this as being
a step up; I see it
as a hassle.”
-English resource teacher
Vickie Adamson
extends beyond the training. “I don’t necessarily see this as being a step up; I see it as a
hassle,” she said. “The timing, the effort, the
energy — I can’t justify it.”
The transition will cost the county over
$300,000 this year, which last year’s MCPS
budget appropriated, according to Kuhar.
Approximately $9,000 of the cost is the annual licensing fee for the software. The
greatest sum, $282,000, was paid to purchase
new hardware to run Outlook’s servers, followed by $25,000 for consulting services.
Outlook’s licensing fee is lower than FirstClass’s $41,500 yearly charge, said Kuhar.
December 15, 2005
December 15, 2005
MCPS approves construction plan
Downtown Silver Spring development looms, county starts building Clarksburg High School
The Board of Education passed
a six-year school construction plan
Nov. 17 that aims to reduce overcrowding in MCPS.
The plan provides for the addition of one new high school in
Clarksburg and six new elementary schools, according to MCPS’s
Capital Improvements Plan. Other
improvements include additions,
renovations and the reopening of
several schools. The plan allocates
$1.172 billion for construction and
renovation over a six-year period.
Parents and community leaders raised concerns over how the
plan will stop overcrowding in the
Downcounty Consortium (DCC)
and over the boundary change
process involving Clarksburg High
Developments in the DCC
The plan states that the expansion of Northwood to include
grades 11 and 12 will relieve overcrowding at Blair, Einstein, Kennedy and Wheaton. Blair has 3,081
students enrolled for the 2005-2006
school year, 251 students over
capacity. By 2008, MCPS predicts
that Blair will be under-enrolled by
114 students.
But Blair Cluster Representative
Ray Scannell is worried that MCPS
may have overlooked 2,500 to 3,000
new housing units being built in
downtown Silver Spring. “There’s
almost 3,000 housing units going
into the Blair base area. Do the math
— if just half have one kid, that’s
1,500 kids. If only one-third, that’s
almost 1,000,” said Scannell.
Bruce Crispell, director of longrange planning for MCPS, explained
that MCPS works closely with the
Department of Park and Planning.
“[MCPS gets] every preliminary
plan that’s filed in the county. We
are in the loop all the way through
the process,” he said.
County developers pay a school
impact tax, according to Crispell.
The fee depends on the type of
housing unit being built, ranging
from $1,693 for a high-rise to $8,464
for a new house. The tax was created by the County Council to help
fund the capital improvements.
Scannell is concerned that MCPS
assumes housing patterns in downtown Silver Spring will mirror those
of wealthier parts of the county,
like Bethesda, where condominiums and townhouses are mainly
inhabited by young professionals
and affluent, elderly residents. “To
automatically assume that new
housing will follow richer areas, it’s
like believing in fantasies. [Silver
Spring] has different occupancy
patterns than other parts of the
county,” he said.
Crispell denied Scannell’s claims.
“By 2008, Blair will be within capacity,” he said. “We know there are
lots of new housing units coming
into downtown Silver Spring. A lot
of them are quite upscale — these
seem to be empty nesters.”
The plan is flexible in case housing patterns in Silver Spring change.
“We don’t just stop there and say it’s
always going to be that way. We
will continue to monitor the new
developments,” he said.
A key part of MCPS’s new building plans is the construction of
Clarksburg High School, which
comes in response to increased
housing developments in the area
and overcrowding at Seneca Valley,
Damascus and Watkins Mill.
Clarksburg High School is scheduled to open in August 2006. The
school will hold up to 1,600 students
and will be able to accommodate a
community of 15,000 housing units.
It will have the biggest impact on
Damascus, which is currently 21
percent over capacity, according to
the Capital Improvements Plan.
Building Clarksburg
When MCPS changes school
boundaries, citizen advisory committees are developed to provide
input to the Board of Education.
The boundary change involving
Clarksburg, Damascus, Seneca Val-
Graphic by
Camille Mackler
ley and Watkins Mill is the largest in
the county’s history, said Leslie Cuneo, a Damascus cluster coordinator
who served on the committee.
Boundary decisions are based
on geographic location, socioeconomic, racial and ethnic factors and
neighborhood issues, said senior
Sebastian Johnson, the student
member of the Board of Education. Under Superintendent Jerry
Weast’s proposal, a neighborhood
in the Clarksburg area would be
divided to increase the diversity of
Clarksburg High School.
During community hearings,
several parents voiced concern
over the diversity of the schools
their children would attend. “Some
parents said they didn’t want their
kids to go to Seneca Valley because
it has more minority students,” said
Johnson. “Seneca Valley has a bit of
a bad reputation for academics, and
the building is older. Clarksburg is
new and has more opportunities.”
Johnson feels that racial tension
is present in the Clarksburg and
Damascus communities. “In that
part of the county, there is still racism that exists, and we’re seeing
that,” he said. Other parents from
Damascus testified at the hearings
saying they did not want diversity,
according to Board of Education
member Valerie Ervin.
The main concerns of Damascus
parents were to ensure that MCPS
allocated funds in the capital improvement budget to Damascusarea schools, said Cuneo. “We just
want our little tiny piece of the
pie,” she said, noting that diversity
was also a concern among parents.
“There are definitely parents in the
Damascus area who do not want
The discussion over Blair ’s
boundary changes in the 1990s
also had racial undertones, said
Scannell. “It’s politically difficult to
change boundaries,” he said, stating
that this has caused division within
the county. “We have segregation
in this county by class, and class in
Maryland is also linked to race.”
The Board took all community
members’ concerns into account,
but no changes were made to the
Capital Improvements Plan, said
Johnson. Against the wishes of
some Damascus parents, the Board
voted unanimously to approve
Weast’s proposal. The County
Council will vote on the six-year
plan in January.
Meetings explain county Magnet applications
MCPS sponsors workshops to increase the number of minority applicants to special programs
from WORKSHOPS page 7
magnets, the middle-school programs increased diversity in their incoming classes
last year by accepting 51 black students,
up from 24 the previous year. This increase
was in part due to a new MCPS policy allowing fifth-graders not identified as Gifted
and Talented (GT) to take advanced courses,
according to an April 2005 Silver Chips article.
Magnetic tension
County magnet programs have long contained a disproportionately small number of
minority students, according to Martin Creel,
the acting director of the MCPS Division of
Accelerated and Enriched Instruction. Last
January, the African American Parents of
Magnet School Applicants launched an unsuccessful campaign to suspend the middleschool magnet application process because
of data that showed that a lower percentage
of black applicants were accepted than white
or Asian applicants. The group cited that six
percent of black applicants to the Takoma
Park Magnet Program were accepted while
25 percent of whites were granted slots, according to a Mar. 8 article in The Washington
Activist groups, including the Montgomery County Education Forum (MCEF), have
also been dissatisfied with the second-grade
GT designation because it promotes racial
uniformity in special programs. Mark Adel- were black or Latino. Even though black
man, MCEF’s treasurer, said that GT testing or Latino students made up 42 percent of
promotes “tracking.” “The way MCPS runs the MCPS student body in 2004-2005, only
its programs, the lower groups don’t get an 24 percent of eighth graders eligible for the
equal opportuMagnet were
nity in educablack or Latino.
tion,” he said.
from the apfactor that has
plication prodecreased micess based on
nority enrollfailure to take
ment in magnet
courses is dethe
prerequiclining because
site course reelementary and
quirement for
middle schools
According to
students to take
harder classes
candiin an effort
dates are elimito
nated from conkids to both atsideration for
Blair’s magnet
programs and
be- The “Options” booklet, shown here with Magnet take more difcause they have Coordinator Eileen Steinkraus, outlines the ap- ficult courses
not completed plication process. Photo by Nic Lukehart
in the future,
Algebra I by the
said Steinkraus.
end of middle school.
“Middle schools are getting kids more aware
of what they need to get done so they can
Middle-school blues
take advanced courses in high school,” she
said. For instance, last year was the first in
Of the 5,760 students in the class of 2009 which all MCPS elementary schools offered
who completed Algebra I before high school, Math A, the first math course that middle4,392 were white or Asian, while only 1,358 school students take.
Even though schools have worked to
prepare students to handle the workload
of special programs, some parents’ lack of
awareness about the application process
was a major reason for the workshops.
MCPS instructional specialists at the meetings discussed the steps for applying to each
For the Blair Magnet, criteria included
an application with lists of extracurricular
activities and accomplishments, a three-part
test, three teacher recommendations and
past report cards.
Formula for success
While the inability to apply because of
failure to complete prerequisite classes is becoming less of an issue, socioeconomic diversity continues to be a concern, according to
Steinkraus. To combat this trend, screening
committees are examining applicants’ Free
and Reduced Meals (FARMS) status. This
practice has improved the Blair program’s
diversity because poorer students were not
penalized for having fewer extracurricular
activities or academic awards. Board of Education member Valerie Ervin said that the
Board is working on a formula that would
identify potential FARMS recipients, a process that would replace the procedure in
which students must submit a family income
form to become eligible for FARMS. Ervin
suggested that the formula could be used in
placing low-income magnet applicants.
10 ADS
December 15, 2005
December 15, 2005
Online comments
spark controversy
from SHERWOOD page 1
then stated that he or she would like to harm
black people.
Sherwood’s administration responded
because the blog could have disrupted the
school, said Sherwood Principal John Yore.
“There were several student reports of
concern about the blog. Appropriate action
was taken,” he said. “Students have First
Amendment rights, but when something
directly impacts our students, [administrators] have to become involved.”
Administrators felt that students needed
to understand that what they publish online
can be read by anyone and can result in disciplinary action, according to Sarah Bisceglie, Sherwood’s student body president.
The action taken by Sherwood’s administrators would be justified if the comment
had been posted at school, said University
of California
at Los Angeles
law professor
Eugene Volokh.
The U.S. Supreme Court
has not ruled
on whether
have jurisdiction over offcampus Internet posts.
The Supreme
Court’s decision in “Tinker
v. Des Moines”
declared that
students have
First Amendment rights, but
a later ruling in
v. Kuhlmeier”
stated that
school administrators can censor student expression, according to the Freedom Forum’s
web site. “Some courts say as long as speech
affected school, the student can be punished.
Other courts have ruled that if the comment
was posted off-campus, the student cannot
be punished,” said Volokh, who concluded
that in general, “if the speech is disruptive,
the school can discipline.”
Taking action
In response to the blog incident, Sherwood administrators organized a forum
on racism on Nov. 17. Sherwood Assistant
Principal Renee Brimfield also invited Ervin
to visit the school and to sit in on the school’s
“African American Experience” class.
Ervin, one of two black Board of Education members, received a copy of the blog
entry when she arrived at the meeting.
Ervin said she is unsure whether or not the
student should have been disciplined. “It
was harsh enough to be considered a hate
crime,” said Ervin. “These are the kind of
issues that need to be put on the table and
discussed, because we don’t have a clear
policy on this.”
After the forum, Ervin showed a copy of
the blog to Blair senior Sebastian Johnson,
the other black board member. Johnson was
startled when he first read it and was unsure
how to respond to the comments on the web
site. “You hear so much about how diverse
our county is and how much tolerance we
have in our schools. To have something like
this, it’s really a wake-up call,” said Johnson,
who has talked
to Ervin in the
past about visiting schools to
talk about race.
also said that
he is unsure
whether the
school should
have punished
the student but
that removal
from Sherwood
was necessary
because she
was receiving
death threats
from other students. “I’m
kind of torn,”
said Johnson.
“It was posted
outside school.
On the other
hand, I understand that if something like
this caused enough of a disruption, something would have to be done.”
Malone said that she is particularly interested in conducting programs at other
area schools because Diversity Workshop
no longer fits into the Blair curriculum.
She is also concerned that both Diversity
Workshop and her Peace Studies course
will no longer be offered at Blair because
of the new focus on the academies and the
increasing emphasis on using class time
only for instruction. “It’s harder to do the
workshops at Blair this year,” said Malone.
“We are more than eager to do workshops
at other schools.”
Firefighters respond after an intentional fire in a girls’ bathroom on the third
floor activated the fire alarm system on Dec. 7. Photo by Jeff Lautenberger
Arson strikes Blair
School evacuated twice after restroom fires
from ARSON page 1
prompted a school-wide evacuation.
Five engine companies, two ladder
trucks, one rescue squad, one medic unit
and several fire chiefs arrived at Blair
within 10 minutes of the alarm sounding.
The fire was contained to the bathroom,
according to Rescue Chief Allan Platky.
Before 2:30 p.m., the fire was extinguished,
and fans were used to ventilate the area.
Though the fires “may seem like a prank,”
Platky said they constituted a serious safety hazard.
A third fire occurred in the girls’ bathroom in the 250s hallway during second
period on Dec. 8, triggering another building evacuation.
The fire alarm rang at 7:54 a.m., and students were evacuated to the stadium in 25degree weather. Three fire trucks and one
medical unit arrived at Blair while a helicopter from a local news station hovered
near the stadium. By 8:40 a.m., students
were escorted from the stadium into the
SAC, gym and auditorium.
According to standard procedure, direction of the building was turned over to
the fire marshal upon the fire department’s
arrival. School administrators regained
control by 9:15 a.m., said Assistant Principal Patricia Hurley.
According to Blair Safety Officer Mark
Curran, students were asked to file into
the building past two administrators and
police officers stationed at the stadium’s
two exit gates. “They were able to locate
students who had information on today’s
and yesterday’s fires,” he said.
Before the fire alarm sounded, social
studies teacher Brian Hinkle remembers
hearing someone yell “fire!” outside of his
classroom, room 254, during an announcement by Hurley regarding the Dec. 7 fires.
“Right when they made the announcement,
someone yelled in the hallway, ‘There’s a
fire in the girls’ bathroom!’” said senior
Ngoclan Nguyen, a student in Hinkle’s
second-period class.
Students were not permitted to return
to their first-block classes because of the
police investigation. “It’s now criminal;
that’s why we were only able to come into
the gym and SAC [and auditorium], so
they could gather evidence,” said Curran.
School policy dictates that administrators are not allowed to disclose the student’s personal information.
Students and staff increase recycling efforts
from RECYCLING page 1
services efforts, a practice that is especially important in Blair because
of the school’s exceptionally large
enrollment and building size.
Reginald Tobin, Blair plant
equipment operator, suggested
that Blair ’s size makes it nearly
impossible for building services to
recycle. “We shouldn’t have to be
held responsible for the recycling,”
he said. “With only 20 building
services workers, it’s hard to do the
recycling for the entire school. With
more than 3,100 students working
on it, the program works much better. If students have pride in their
school and in mother earth, then
they will do the recycling themselves.”
The county recycling inspector, who evaluated the school last
December, agreed, saying that at a
large school like Blair, students and
staff must work cooperatively to
effectively recycle. “The recycling
program at [Blair] must be restarted and re-energized by a true
green team to inspire school-wide
support,” he wrote in an overall
evaluation, in which he gave Blair’s
recycling program a “D+.”
According to MCPS Environmental Safety Coordinator Lynne
Zarate, both Montgomery County
regulations and MCPS policies require functional recycling programs
in all public schools. MCPS workers
measure the mass of recyclables
generated by a school every month.
They compare that monthly tonnage
of recyclables to both the amounts
of recyclables historically collected
and the expected amounts of recyclables. Zarate said that MCPS
staff could conduct an investigation and make recommendations
for corrective action to the school
administration if these regulations
are not being followed.
Jones also said that the county
could fine schools that repeatedly
fail to recycle. However, schools
usually receive suggestions for
improvement if they do not adequately recycle.
Getting back on track
Certain steps have been taken
to improve the immediate situation
regarding recycling at Blair, said senior Emily May, a student involved
in the recycling program. Last
week, several classes of Communi-
cation Arts Program teacher John located. English teacher Carole ToGoldman’s students performed mayko, who spearheaded the effort
a single full-school recycling col- last year and plans to involve her
lection to prevent the bins from Connections students in recycling
being emptied into the dumpster. again this year, began training her
Goldman said that these collec- Connections classes on recycling
last month.
tions will not be
Students were
completed on an
taught how to
ongoing basis
judge the cleanand that he was
simply trying
liness of recyto help out the
cling in a bin,
Blair recycling
where to get the
effort while it
carts to transwas still being
port recycling
to the loading
In addition to
dock and how
these efforts, the
to behave in
Blair committee
-Plant Equipment Operator c l a s s r o o m s
to manage recywhile collecting
Reginald Tobin the recycling.
cling, headed by
Hack said
Hack and Lamthat other plans
phier, is implementing more permanent plans to for improving the Blair recycling
improve the situation. According to program involve ordering tops for
Hack, the primary objective is to in- tall blue recycling bins to prevent
corporate students in Connections mixing of different recyclable items.
classes by giving them adequate According to May, 17 of these tops
training and class time to address have been ordered from the county,
the issue. Students remove recycled and they may be used as templates
products from plastic recycling bins for Connections students to create
and transport them to the loading covers for the rest of the bins, reducdocks, where a larger receptacle is ing expenses. Hack also hopes to
“We shouldn’t
have to be held
responsible for
the recycling.”
receive labels that inform students
of the proper materials to deposit in
the recycling bins from the county.
A lack of posters and labeling was
one of the major reasons for Blair’s
poor grades in previous county
evaluations; Blair scored a zero in
the past two county evaluations.
Knowledge is power
Hack and the recycling committee also plan to initiate an educational drive to make students aware
of the recycling program. May has
helped prepare educational material, working to produce public service announcements for InfoFlow
and creating the groundwork for a
Blair Recycling Week. May hopes to
have the educational drive in place
by winter break.
Though Blair’s recycling initiative started late this year due to
changes in program leadership and
new Connections classes, Tomayko
remains hopeful about improving
the starting time of the program in
future years thanks to a more experienced staff. Next year, there will
be six Connections teachers with
recycling program experience, up
from one this year.
12 ADS
December 15, 2005
December 15, 2005
At long last...
Blair makes AYP
Blair met state standards for reading and satisfied the Adequate Yearly
Progress (AYP) requirement for the 2005 school year. After failing to meet
geometry standards and make AYP for two years in a row, Blair met all
requirements for the 2004-2005 school year. If Blair maintains AYP next
year, it will exit its “School Improvement Year 1” status.
To satisfy AYP, established by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,
each Maryland school is required to satisfy standards measured annually
by the Maryland School Assessments in 37 different racial and socioeconomic subgroups. If a school does not achieve all of the requirements
in the same reported area for two years in a row, it enters “School Improvement Year 1,” after which the school progresses to a higher level
of School Improvement for each year it does not meet standards for the
failed areas. This may eventually include the replacement of school
staff and the takeover of school operations by the state government. A
school exits School Improvement if it passes all state standards for two
consecutive years.
Supreme Court rules in ‘Schaffer v. Weast’
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of MCPS on Nov. 14 in a case
involving the administration of special education plans in schools. The
case, “Schaffer v. Weast,” concerned the dispute over the adequacy and
implementation of Individual Education Programs (IEPs). The Individuals with Disabilities Act requires that schools provide IEPs in order to
aid and enhance the learning of students with disabilities who are not
being adequately instructed.
The decision upheld the legal system’s practice of placing the burden
of proof on parents of special education students who want to request
an IEP.
County to sue FDA over imported drugs
Montgomery County plans to sue the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the county’s plan to import prescription drugs from
Canada, according to The Washington Post. County Executive Doug
Duncan said that he hopes to receive a waiver from the FDA to import
drugs from Canada.
The County Council passed a bill on Nov. 1 mandating that the county
participate in a contract to allow its government employees to import
cheaper Canadian pharmaceuticals prescribed for chronic illnesses.
SGR, Amnesty International hold Sudan teach-in
John Heffernan, a senior investigator for Physicians for Human Rights,
gave a lecture on the Sudanese genocide after school Nov. 17 in the media
center. The lecture was hosted by Students for Global Responsibility
(SGR) and Amnesty International. Heffernan held discussions at 2:10
p.m. and 3 p.m. that covered a wide variety of subjects related to the
alleged genocide in Darfur. His presentation included a brief history
of the crisis, a video that he and a coworker filmed in Sudan earlier this
year and a short question-and-answer session
Heffernan lived in Sudan for two years in the 1990s. After visiting
dozens of villages and interviewing refugees, Heffernan and his team
concluded that “there was [an] organized attempt to affect a group annihilation.” His team’s findings have helped contribute to the general
response of the U.S. government towards the crisis. The groups hope
Heffernan’s visit will be the beginning of several activities at Blair to raise
awareness about the genocide in Darfur. SGR will be holding its annual
charity concert, SGR Spectacular, on Dec. 16 in the SAC, and proceeds
will benefit Sudanese refugees. The concert will feature performances
by Blair’s STEP team, InToneNation and several other clubs and student
Shots fired in Beltway chase
Police pursued four shoplifting suspects Dec. 1 in a rush-hour chase
around the Beltway, ending with the crash of the suspects’ vehicle on
Colesville Road, according to police press releases. Three of the suspects
were arrested, and one was taken to MedStar hospital after receiving
gunshot wounds from police.
Plainclothes Fairfax County police officers noticed that the four suspects, three women and a man, were behaving suspiciously while at the
Tysons Corner Center mall. After they left, police pulled over their car,
a gray Honda Civic, but were met with a confrontation in which shots
were fired. Two officers were injured during the traffic stop, but neither
was shot.
Two Blair students allegedly involved in knifing
Senior Renley Andrews, 18, was injured in an alleged knifing at a party
on Nov. 4, according to an official police report. Senior Jay Asbell, 18, was
arrested and charged with first-degree assault and possession of a deadly
weapon in connection with the incident.
According to the police report, Andrews was admitted to Suburban
Hospital for treatment of several lacerations to the face, torso and hand
he sustained during the incident and received more than 40 stitches and
staples. He was released several hours later.
Because police are still investigating the incident, both Andrews and
Asbell declined to comment.
Newsbriefs compiled by Adam Yalowitz with additional reporting by Isaac
Arnsdorf, Lois Bangiolo, Alexis Egan, Jordan Goldstein, Zahra Gordon,
Varun Gulati, Alex Hyder, Allie O’Hora, Adith Sekaran, Lynda Seumo, Abe
Schwadron, Ekta Taneja and Josh Zipin.
Resource counselor Marcia Johnson congratulates all of Blair’s
outstanding AP Scholars and reminds students not to forget any of
the major upcoming events.
Important Dates:
•Dec. 16 – SGR Spectacular, 6:30 p.m., SAC
•Dec. 26-30 – No school for students and teachers, winter break
•Jan. 6 – Winter choral concert, 7:30 p.m., auditorium
•Dec. 13, 16-19 – Semester exams
•Jan. 20 – Second marking period ends
•Jan. 23 – No school for students, report card preparation
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) cuts a ribbon wrapped around spectators at the opening of the new Takoma Park Community Center on Dec. 11. Photo by Hannah Rosen
Engineering available next year
New courses aimed at combating nationwide shortage
MCPS is establishing a Pre-Engineering Program, which will be
available to sophomores next year,
intended to reduce the national
shortage of engineers.
The program, proposed in part
by Blair counselor James Distler,
consists of four two-semester
courses. Distler recognized that
many honors students interested
in engineering avoid taking technology education (tech-ed) courses
because they hurt weighted GPAs.
For this reason, the county will offer classes designated as certificate
of merit, honors and non-honors.
“We’ve got to offer good options to
all our students,” Distler said.
The program will be funded by
the Perkins Act, which was authorized in 1984 to provide support
for career and technical education
programs, according to the Association for Career and Technical
Education. Like the No Child Left
Behind Act, the Perkins Act emphasizes testing and accountability. Consequently, Distler and the
other creators of the program were
forced to develop tests for attainment of curriculum objectives before returning to the classroom to
make sure the courses were teaching this material.
Currently, only three of MCPS’s
21 high schools offer engineering
programs. Thomas Edison provides career training for students
interested in becoming engineers
and “Project Lead the Way,” a college-level engineering program, is
available at Col. Zadok Magruder
and Poolesville. Distler believes
that these options are insufficient
to “flood students with opportunities” to study engineering and he
hopes the new program will fill the
If students’ home schools do
not offer Pre-Engineering classes,
they may take the classes at other
schools, which Distler predicts
could lead to overcrowding. To
reduce the stress on schools with
Pre-Engineering program courses,
he and the program’s other creators will make only “Creative
Engineering,” the first class in the
sequence, available next year. The
remaining three Pre-Engineering
Program classes will be gradually
phased in while some existing engineering courses, like Communications, a tech-ed class at Blair, are
phased out.
According to the MCPS course
syllabus, “Creative Engineering”
is designed for sophomores with
strong physics backgrounds who
will take calculus in high school
and are interested in pursuing
engineering as a career. Students
in the class will learn the steps of
the engineering design process,
explore the skills and abilities necessary to become an engineer and
discover how engineering can contribute to society.
“Systems and Cycles,” geared
towards juniors, will emphasize
the development and design of
machines and other engineering projects. Students will utilize
computer software like Computer
Assisted Design and Drafting to
diagram devices and use FisherTechnik parts, Legos and circuits
to construct them.
“Engineering Applications,” the
first senior-level course, will begin
to steer students towards particular
engineering fields. Students in the
class will draw on knowledge from
the previous two courses, as well
as physics and math, to complete a
rigorous project in a specified area
of interest such as mechanical or
biomedical engineering.
“Engineering Science” is the
culmination of the Pre-Engineering Program. Participants will be
evaluated on their design, modeling and construction skills and
their ability to apply science and
college-level math to engineering.
The class will also teach students
the ethical responsibilities of engineering and how to communicate as a team while researching
and completing engineering tasks.
Seniors may apply to take Engineering Science at the University
of Maryland (UMD) instead of at
Blair to receive college credit for
the course.
UMD has joined MCPS in developing the Pre-Engineering
Program to help eliminate a national shortage of engineering
professionals. According to the
Council on Competitiveness, the
number of students earning engineering degrees dropped by 20
percent from 1986 to 1998 nationwide. Nariman Farvardin, Dean
of the A. James Clark School of
Engineering at UMD, emphasized
cultivating interest for engineering in high school or earlier, as the
county aims to do with the PreEngineering program, so students
will be more likely to choose an
engineering career.
•Blair’s cheerleaders placed second in the 18th annual MCPS Division Two Cheerleading Competition
last Saturday at Blair. The cheerleaders also received
the spirit award.
•The Blair community Ultimate Frisbee team, “Homecooked,” is ranked fifth in the nation. The team is currently undefeated.
•Blair 2005 graduate Martino Choi was a State AP
Scholar, one of two in Maryland. Choi took 16 AP exams during his junior and senior years.
•A record 160 MCPS students were among the nation’s
top performers on the Advanced Placement (AP) exams last spring. Students qualify to become National
AP Scholars by receiving a score of 4 or higher on at
least eight AP exams. The following Blair seniors and
2005 graduates were named National AP Scholars:
Douglas Adams, Daniel Aisen, Alexander Alm, Wilma Bainbridge, Jeffrey Cao, Daniel Chamberlain,
Vivek Chellappa, Jonathan Chiang, Patrick Detzner,
Rohit Dewan, William Dreher, Jeffrey Dunn, Eric
Esch, Abigail Fraeman, Jeremy Goodman, Ariel
Halper-Stromber, Dan Han, Gregory Howard, Grace
Huang, Andy Jiang, Matthew Jordan, Ravi Joseph,
Ashley Jurinka, Kevin Kahn, John Kim, Saul Kinter,
Siwei Kwok, James Lee, Kendra Leigh, Alice Li, Xiaoke Li, Eric Ma, Alexander Mont, Teresa Ramirez,
John Silberholz, Adrienne Smith, Denis Sosnovtsev,
Timothy Sy, Nicholas Tucker, Prasanna Vasudevan,
Jacquelin Villadsen, Kathy Wang, Max Wasserman,
David White, Samuel Wright, Min Wu, Kristina
Yang, Jessica Yen, Lida You, Katherine Zhang and
Chelsea Zhang.
December 15, 2005
December 15, 2005
Back Through the Looking Glass
Blazers choose to turn away from ecstasy
by Robert Feasley
Where only first names appear, names have been
changed to protect the identities of the sources.
“You have to understand, my family is
perfectly normal,” says John, a junior. “We
all have secrets we don’t tell each other. My
secret is just that I used to do ecstasy.”
John is among the eight percent of highschool seniors who say they have tried ecstasy at least once in their lives, according to the
National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).
John started using ecstasy his freshman year.
He still remembers the drug’s allure, but he
is no longer part of the 31 percent of teens
who plan to do ecstasy in the future.
His journey from ecstasy enthusiast to
responsible teen has taken him away from
the netherworld of chemically-induced euphoria to a hard-won maturity.
John, among other Blazers, has defied the
statistics and walked away from the party.
The reasons for quitting ecstasy use go far
beyond surface slogans like “just say no,”
appealing to students’ ambitions and senses
of self-worth.
John’s first encounter with the drug during his freshman year is still etched indelibly
in his mind.
He recalls sitting on his couch surrounded by friends, staring nervously at the small
white pill in his right hand. He was aware
that, as a street drug, the ecstasy he held
could have harmful added ingredients such
as strychnine and PCP or simply the wrong
ratio of speed to acid. He knew that the
pill could debilitate him for the rest of his
life, but the fear of losing face in front of his
friends negated even the
most infallible of reasoning.
Eyes closed tightly,
John placed the pill on
his tongue, said a silent,
quick prayer and swallowed.
Within seconds, his
apprehension began to
dissipate as the effects
of the tiny, bitter pill
began to overwhelm
him, lifting him into
a euphoric state. His
pulse quickened, his pupils constricted and
beads of sweat began to form on his forehead.
Once down this rabbit hole of unre-
strained bliss, even the most mundane activity, like running his fingers through his hair,
seemed to exude a near-orgasmic sensation.
The effects of the drug lasted 24 hours.
Emerging from the cloud of euphoria, John
was struck in the face by reality. Red-eyed,
dehydrated and irritable, he felt ill-prepared to meet the day. Everyone seemed to
be breathing too loudly. The incandescent
lights of his room, previously fascinating,
now only glared cruelly into his bloodshed
Lurking dangers
According to Jerry Frankenheim, a pharmacologist and project manager at NIDA,
found he could no longer spend
20 hours at a rave and still be
prepared for his weekly lesson.
His ability to concentrate and
to evolve on his instrument was
compromised. He was forced to
choose between fun and his future and made what he considers
to be the right decision. “It was
time to grow up,” he says with
For Michelle, a junior, the decision to take responsibility for
her life allowed her to quit. “Being screwed up is only fun for
a certain amount of time,” she
says. “My grades were slipping.
It was a decision to trade fun for
maturity.” However pleasurable
the use of ecstasy was initially, her
experience with the drug became
repetitious and ultimately empty.
The responsibilities of adulthood,
while at times daunting, proved
more alluring than the pleasures
of ecstasy.
For Emily, a senior, one-half
of one hit took her far past where
she had any desire to go. “It was
just a spur-of-the-moment thing
that really shook me. I swore I’d
never do it again,” she says.
Crossing over
ecstasy, the street name for methylene dioxy stasy use persists. “Users think that it’s all
John’s impetus to quit ecstasy came vimethamphetamine, was synthesized in the a conspiracy, that it’s just something they’re
laboratory for one sole purpose: “tripping,” hearing from ‘the man,’ while in fact it’s very cariously. Christopher, a friend from another school, was at a rave, ripped on ecstasy
or getting high. It came of age during the real,” says Hillary.
and swaying to the throbbing beat. Interall-night rave and party scene of the early
rupted by a sudden movement in the crowd,
STepping Aside
Christopher glanced towards the floor to see
Initially hailed as the ultimate party
Health risks aside, most Blazers quit for a fellow raver convulsing on the ground,
drug, ecstasy was the first of the “designer club drugs.” Users paid up to a different reason: Their use of ecstasy kept his body awash in the pulsing strobe lights,
$25 a hit despite a 1986 ruldrowned out by
ing that made it illegal to
the club’s unreingest, possess or dismitting techno
tribute. Ecstasy became
standard fare for anyBy the time the
one looking to take a
Emergency Medvacation from reality.
ical Technicians
But ecstasy is far
had reached the
from the harmless esboy, they were
capism that 20th-centuunable to revive
ry party-goers thought
him. The double
it was. Leslie Hillary, a
dose of ecstasy he
Suburban Hospital social worker, has withad
nessed the side effects of the drug firsthand.
had given him a
With ecstasy patients ranging from late
rapid, irregular
teens to early 20s, she has seen a wide range
of symptoms. “Sometimes,
had resulted in
the only difference between a
fatal cardiac arschizophrenic and an ecstasy
patient is that a schizophrenic
Hearing this
will stabilize on medication,”
traumatic story
she says.
shook John to
Designed to maximize dohis very foundapamine receptors to kick pleation. He has been
sure into overdrive, ecstasy
clean for over a
often creates a dangerous
year now. After being scared straight, John
chemical unbalance, which them from achieving their goals in life.
For George, an aspiring musician and predicts that he will never resume his prevican result in serious mental
disorders. “One dose can graduate student at the Peabody Conserva- ous illegal habits. “It took three hits to realprofoundly affect your brain’s tory, the need to focus on his musical train- ize it, but it finally occurred to me that this
chemistry forever,” cautions ing and the appeal of real-life pleasures was not what I wanted to do with my life,”
convinced him to stop using ecstasy. He he says.
M o r e
immediately, ecstasy results in
a miasma
of physical symptoms,
including dehydration,
elevated blood pressure
and abnormal heartbeat.
“People will literally
dance until they drop,”
says Hillary.
of the kids I see are so
brain-dead from dehydration they won’t even
remember why they’ve
come to see me.”
Taught in high-school
health classes nationGraphic by Monica Huang
wide, these facts are
knowledge Center left: A copy of Narcotics Anonymous. Center right: Ecstasy, a designer club drug, has been
among users, and yet ec- growing in popularity among teens. Photo illustrations by Hannah Thresher and Jeff Lautenberger
December 15, 2005
A clash of clothES and convictions
The round, innocent eye of the Playboy apparel among students
Playboy bunny was the first thing at Blair is just one manifestation of
junior Rosaura West noticed about a growing ignorance of past femithe shirt her friend gave her as a nist movements and threatens to
gift three years ago. She also liked undo their advances.
the way the stark black outline of
the rabbit’s head contrasted with
The bunny
the tank top’s light color. And, she
says, “bunnies are cute.”
Senior Corinne Bell has never
West has become an avid fan of felt dependent on any man. Growthe Playboy brand since receiving ing up in a house of all females
that first shirt. She has purchased instilled in her the conviction that
women are just as
m a n y
capable as men. “I
o t h e r
don’t need a man to
pieces of
fix the sink; I’ll pull
out the tools myself,”
a p p a re l ,
she says.
includlive for me, not
ing five
necklacfor a male.”
es, three
Bell is anbelts, nine
she sees young
senior women wearing
rings and
six shirts
shirts bearing the
— all of
image of the Playboy
which sport the familiar outline of bunny or any other overtly sexual
the bowtie-clad rabbit with long, message. She believes that they
pointy ears.
are demeaning and suggest that
While this seemingly innocent women exist solely for the pleabunny is acceptable to West and sure of men.
many other female students at
Social studies teacher Lansing
Blair, some view the logo as Freeman holds a similar view of the
a symbol of the sexual bunny. “That logo represents the
exploitation of women. denigration of women and indiFrom the very first is- cates that they have only two uses:
sue of the Playboy mag- to be looked at and to have things
azine, which featured done to them,” he says. Freeman
Marilyn Monroe in a remembers one day several years
black dress with a plung- ago when a girl walked into his
ing neckline on the cover, Peace Studies class with the Playthe publication was
“entertainment for
Since then,
it has become
both pictures
of nude women
and the articles it
publishes. While
many claim the
Playboy publication is a legitimate source of
news, the Playboy brand has a
direct and longstanding sexual
Sheila Gibbons,
editor of “Media Above: Senior Xiu Nguyen shows off her
Report to Wom- Playboy socks. Left: Seniors Natalie Frieden,” a news and man and Bessrat Hagos hold a sign. Photos
research journal by Hannah Thresher and Brandon Herbst
boy bunny displayed prominently
and media.
Some see the growing tendency on her chest. Freeman saw it as a
of young girls to dress in sexu- learning opportunity — he devotally explicit ways as detrimental ed the entire class to a discussion
to the past efforts of women who on the bunny’s meaning.
fought to be recognized as capable
To West, the Playboy logo,
human beings rather than be dis- which she wears to school several
missed as sex objects, says social times each month, is nothing more
studies teacher Mary Thornton. In than a fashion trend — she isn’t inthe eyes of some, the popularity of terested in the Playboy magazine
“i live for
me, not for a
By Keianna dixon
keeping the struggle alive
By Katy Lafen
The brisk autumn
greets sophomore
as she waits in the
large crowd gathering outside of the
U.S. Capitol Rotunda
on the wet and drizzly
morning of Oct. 30. It
is not until midday –– six
hours after she arrived
–– that Forbes sees what
she has been waiting for all
morning: a polished mahogany coffin bearing the late
Rosa Parks.
Although only 4,000
people –– relatives, close
friends and fellow civil
rights leaders –– were invited to Parks’s funeral on
Nov. 2 in Detroit, Michigan,
according to CNN, millions
of other Americans will
cherish the memory of this
civil rights pioneer. While
Blazers like Forbes notice that
many students seem apathetic about contemporary civil
rights issues, they exhibit the
drive to keep the civil rights
movement alive in their community. These Blazers are
among the many honoring
Parks’s memory as they follow in the footsteps of 20thcentury civil rights leaders
by being leaders for a new
Rosa Parks Day
Forbes does not regret waiting in an incredibly long line just to touch
Parks’s closed casket for a
few seconds. She respects the
unique spirit of social activists
like Parks. “They just don’t
make ‘em like her anymore,”
she says.
Fifty years after Parks’s historic act of defiance on Dec.
1, 1955, the W.E.B. Dubois
commemorates the work
of Parks and other civil rights heroes.
Seniors Soulyana Lakew,
Dena Tran and Andrea Mvemba stand
at the front of room 167 as they lead the
club in a recitation of the pledge. They,
like the other members, are clad in
black and white outfits for Rosa Parks
Day, symbolizing how Parks helped
to bring together the different races
through needed social action.
During the club meeting, the seniors
lead a discussion on the impact of the
day’s tributes to Parks, including an
InfoFlow commercial, a moment of silence, the symbolic colors and memorial ribbons.
The club plans to conduct a schoolwide essay contest on Parks. Student
winners will receive monetary prizes,
but the contest is also intended as an incentive to make students research and
learn about Parks’s life, says Tran.
Complacency and racism
Soon after the meeting, Lakew, Tran,
Mvemba and senior Corinne Etoundi
meet on Blair Boulevard and start an
intimate discussion. They tried to stay
optimistic during the meeting, but now
the girls reveal their doubts and disappointments.
Mvemba feels that despite its intentions, the Honor Society’s tribute did
not have the desired effect. Tran adds
that some students didn’t even know
who Rosa Parks was or just didn’t care.
In Mvemba’s AP Environmental
Science class, Mvemba inquired if any
classmates were wearing black and
white for the day’s tributes. “Who
gives a [explicit] about Rosa Parks,” a
white girl said.
Initially, Mvmeba wasn’t sure if
the girl was joking or serious. “Even
though she may have been joking, the
fact that she would say it was harsh,”
Mvemba says.
Tran says that only one person she
met fully understood why Rosa Parks
refused to forfeit her seat on the bus.
“People always say that I didn’t give
up my seat because I was tired, but
that wasn’t true,”
reads Parks’s autobiography, “Rosa Parks: My
Story.” “I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually
was at the end of a working day... No,
the only tired I was, was tired of giving
in.” Parks later said her decision was
partly sparked by the 1955 racially motivated murdering of 14-year-old Emmett Till. “I thought about Emmett Till
and just couldn’t go back,” she said.
Lakew recalls a relevant racially offensive experience. One day as a black
boy was carrying a microwave into the
Student Government Association office, a white boy declared, “We should
put him into the microwave and let him
look worse than Emmett Till.” Lakew
was shocked beyond words.
The next time Lakew saw this white
boy, she told him that she did not appreciate the comment at all. He ignored
her, so Lakew pursued the matter. She
searched on Google for a picture from
Till’s funeral so that the boy could visualize the severity of the issue. Till’s
mutilated face was visible from an open
casket. Still, the boy just shrugged in
complete apathy. “That was my first
and hopefully last experience of that,”
Lakew says.
Senior Natalie Friedman expresses
frustration with the apparent lack of
awareness and wants civil rights and
racism more widely discussed. Besides
overtly racist students, she indicates
why other white students may not be
inclined to discuss civil rights. “It’s an
uncomfortable issue for most people,”
she acknowledges. The legacy of racial oppression in the U.S. causes most
white students to feel like the oppressors themselves and to avoid these discussions, she explains.
Speaking up for civil rights
Forbes believes that all people,
white and black
alike, would care
more for the movement
if they were informed
on the civil rights efforts
of past and present leaders.
“You’re a lot more appreciative of things like that when
you actually get to realize what’s going on,” she
much of her consciousness of racial issues to
her past experiences with
see RIGHTS page 21
Graphic by Yuning Zhang
or company. But to her mother,
it is an inappropriate expression
of sexuality. “My mom always
says that [the shirt] is degrading
to women, but I know it doesn’t
mean I’m into porn or anything,”
she says.
The Playboy company often
defends itself from critics like
West’s mother by arguing that the
constitutional right of freedom of
speech it them to market any type
of clothing, says Gibbons.
Senior Corinne Hernandez
does not believe that Playboy
clothing degrades women and
agrees with the
Playb o y
argum e n t
to some
She sees
the bunny
as nothing
more than
a fashion
that proclaims,
“I’m not
afraid to be
While Thornton
strongly believes in the right
of freedom of speech, she feels
that somewhere, a line has been
crossed. “We fought for the right
to wear what we wanted during
the 60s, but the pendulum has
swung too far,” she says. In her
opinion, clothing with underlying sexual messages like Playboy
merchandise is mostly popular
because of its shock value.
Indeed, West sometimes encounters comments about her
Playboy clothing from other
boys when she wears it to school.
“They’ll say stupid things like,
‘Oh, so you’re a playgirl now,’”
she says. While these comments
occasionally annoy her, they have
not stopped her from wearing
what she chooses. “The reason I
wear [Playboy] is because I don’t
care what other people think of
me,” she says.
Freshman Deepthi Thummalapalli has a different attitude
toward the clothing. While she
once wore Playboy shirts to rebel
against the conservative values
of the private school she used to
attend, Thummalapalli has since
stopped wearing them. She now
believes that the image she was
displaying on her chest was “just
wrong, and I’m not too proud of
it,” she says.
The f-word
Like other feminists, Thornton
see FEMINISM page 21
Graphic by Yuning Zhang
18 ADS
December 15, 2005
December 15, 2005
Inside a public school, a private deed
For some adventurous students, Blair grounds are a convenient venue for sexual exploration
Where only first names appear, names have been
changed to protect the identities of the sources.
On their two-week anniversary, they had
a spontaneous celebration. That night, they
took their relationship to the next level — in
the Blair auditorium.
Randy, a senior, and his girlfriend left
the football stadium for a walk as the 2004
Homecoming game against Wheaton kicked
off. They chanced upon the auditorium door
propped slightly ajar, as if inviting them inside. Around the fifth row of the center section, illuminated only by the aisle lights, they
kissed for 20 minutes before, as Randy puts it,
the night became “extreme.” By halftime, the
home team had scored, and so had Randy.
Nobody discovered Randy and his girlfriend in the act, but eight teens at Osbourn
High School in Manassas, Virginia, were
less lucky. On Sept. 28, a building services
worker discovered five teens having sex in
the auditorium while another three watched.
Apparently, for the
47 percent of highschool students who
have had sexual intercourse, according
to the Centers for
Disease Control and
Prevention, sex at
school has become
increasingly common.
This startling
trend appears to be
gaining ground at
Blair, too: According to an informal Silver
Chips survey of 200 students during the
weeks of Nov. 7 and 14, 41 percent of Blazers
say they know someone who has had sex
in school. Some name the arts hallway, the
portables and the staircase nearest the gym,
among other places, as “sex spots.” But for
those with an appetite for the risqué or simply
nowhere else to go, sex in school is more than
a rumor — it’s a reality.
Sean, a senior, and his girlfriend used more
caution when they shut themselves in the
girls’ bathroom in the 310s hallway during
lunch one Friday in early November. They
had sex standing up for half an hour while
their friend stood guard outside. Before
Sean and his girlfriend left, they flushed their
used condom down the toilet. They decided
against a second rendezvous in the bathroom,
preferring the comfort of a bed at home.
It appears that within the last decade, teens
have increasingly forgone traditional comforts in favor of sex at school, says Deborah
Roffman, a human sexuality educator at The
Park School in Baltimore. “Ten years ago,
kids knew that you’re not supposed to have
sex in school,” she says. “How are these kids
[today] so clueless?”
One time in the band room...
Throughout high school, Dennis, a senior, has defied adult expectations for teen
sex. In his freshman year, he and his former
girlfriend fondled each other in the main
stadium, once under
the bleachers and
once on top of them.
Two years later, Dennis moved to the
band room, where
he and his current
girlfriend spent 45
minutes having oral
“It was one of
-Abigail, sex.
those spur-of-thea senior moment, ‘have-tohave-you’ kinds of
things,” he says.
Then, in February of his junior year, Dennis
and his girlfriend ventured into the uniform
room of the band room after school while his
friends practiced their music outside. In a
“real quickie” that lasted 20 minutes, Dennis
committed the final forbidden act.
After his first time having sexual intercourse in the band room, Dennis came back
for more. Once, he skipped class and snuck
inside a practice room with his girlfriend,
waited with her for the band members to
begin practicing and then had sex against the
wall, their noise drowned out by the music
outside. Another time, they did it during 5B
lunch inside a friend’s car, which was parked
by the sidewalk near the Colesville Road entrance. At one point, a security guard stood
only yards away, completely unaware.
Dennis feels no remorse about his sexual
adventures in Blair; instead, he feels a sense
of accomplishment. “It was a fantastic use
“Everyone wants to
have a crazy sex
“An adrenaline rush”
During the hour and a half Randy and his
girlfriend spent in private, one thing led to another, he says, culminating in “an adrenaline
rush in the auditorium.” He did not think
twice about the possibility of being caught.
“At the time, I didn’t really care. Afterwards
it was like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe what
happened,’” he recalls.
of public property,”
he says.
Dennis and
his girlfriend had
few other places
to go. Although
his parents knew
and accepted the
fact that he was
sexually active, his
girlfriend’s culturally conservative
parents forbade
her from dating,
and certainly from
having sex. So the
two satisfied their
desires in the most
practical place, the
place where they
saw each other every day: Blair.
Amber Eisenmann, coordinator
of Training and Adolescent Services
at Planned Parenthood of Maryland,
explains that in
most cases, sex at
school is purely a
means to an end.
Because teens tend
to have little personal space at home
and spend a large
Graphic by Camille Mackler and Hannah Rosen
part of their time
at school, school
happens to be the most convenient location door. Abigail bit down on her lip to make sure
no one would hear her. “Everyone wants to
for sex, Eisenmann says.
have a crazy sex story,” she says. “This was
“A crazy sex story”
Part of what made the sex so thrilling for
Abigail, a senior, resorted to clandestine Abigail was that it involved breaking out
sex in school because of the lack of privacy at of the rigid conventions of a school setting.
home. When her boyfriend at the time sug- “It’s almost like you’re breaking one of the
gested they have sex in a school bathroom as 10 Commandments,” she says. Having sex
at school was not just in spite of school rules,
a joke, Abigail thought, “Why not?”
But there was something else about the it was purposely to spite the rules.
Here at Blair, however, the rule banning
idea of sex at school that tempted Abigail. She
found herself intrigued by the risks, excited students from sexual behavior is an unwritten
by the threat of getting caught in the act. “It’s one. MCPS does not specify consequences
a turn-on... knowing at any second you could for students caught having sex in school, and
neither does Blair’s discipline policy, accordget busted,” Abigail says.
In the first few months of her junior year, ing to administrator Patricia Hurley.
But Principal Phillip Gainous expects that
Abigail and her boyfriend had sex after school
three times in the first-floor girls’ bathroom by the punishment would be similar to that of
the auditorium. They crammed themselves the eight Osbourn High School students, all
into a stall and positioned their bodies so only
see SEX page 25
one pair of legs peeked out from under the
Lady Blazers lock horns
Well, yes you do. And as the title of the inaugural installment
of this future Chips institution suggests, this month’s contest is
all about slogans.
So here’s the deal: Think of a clever tagline for anything even remotely Blair-related and drop it along with your name and grade
level in the stunningly decorated Chips Invitational box in room
158. Check our January issue to see if your quip has made the cut.
A few examples for inspiration’s sake:
• The student parking lot: Parents welcome.
• The cafeteria: Now with 25 percent less dog!
• Blair Boulevard: Toll lanes coming in 2007.
• The Math Department: This stuff is important. Trust us.
• The wrestling room: Ringworm is the least of your worries.
It had started with ugly whisperings behind their backs. Sophomores Myshia Armstrong and
Julissa Rogers can’t remember the
names of their tormentors from two
years ago, but the insults still ring
clear in their minds. “They were
calling us [expletive], spreading
rumors that we were doing stuff
with boys and that we couldn’t
fight,” says Armstrong.
Then one day at East Wayne
Park, Armstrong and Rogers
chanced upon the two sisters who
had started the rumors. A fight
erupted, according to Rogers, after one of the sisters threw the first
punch. In retaliation, Armstrong
and Rogers threw the sisters to the
ground and started kicking them.
Rogers remembers even reaching
for a stick at one point.
As more and more media attention has been heaped on girl
aggression and female bullying
in recent years, stories like Armstrong and Rogers’s have become
increasingly common, and there
is evidence that the attention is
not misplaced. According to the
Center for Disease Control’s Youth
Risk Behavior Surveillance report,
25 percent of girls in 2003 reported
having fought physically within
the last 12 months, up five percent from 2001. The FBI’s Uniform
Crime Report presents a similar
picture: Between 2000 and 2004,
the number of girls arrested for
simple assault — attacks without a
weapon — increased 16 percent.
At Blair, a trend of increasing
girl violence may also be taking
shape. Security assistant Tanesha
Taylor notes that girl fights have
outnumbered boy fights in recent
months. In the classroom, social studies teacher Amy Thomas
says she has more problems with
girl fights than with boy fights.
Whether their fights take place
in class, in the hallways or off the
Blair campus, many lady Blazers
are realizing that verbal putdowns
are not the only weapons in their
“Talking smack”
By all appearances, senior Kaliza Lee is an easy-going girl. Talkative and quick to smile, she leans
casually to one side of Blair Boulevard one day last month, not far
from where she got caught in a girl
fight last year.
Lee remembers the fight vividly. She had been walking with
her friends to the SAC at lunch
when they encountered another
clique clustered around one of the
light poles. One of the girls in the
clique — Lee can’t recall her name
— had bad blood with one of Lee’s
friends. The two exchanged angry
words, and the girl swung a fist at
Lee’s friend.
Lee jumped in to separate the
two and tried to calm them down
as the girls from the clique jeered
and hurled insults. She and her
friends ignored them, choosing instead to walk away.
But Lee’s friend was in a rage.
Twisting free from the group, she
ran back and punched the girl. Lee
jumped in with her, and the brawl
A year later, Lee still feels her
actions were justified: She was just
helping her friend, she says. Lee
also believes that, to some extent,
the girls deserved it. “The girls
kept running their mouths, talking
smack,” she says. “Saying all kinds
of stuff, like about my mom.”
Verbal aggression was also the
trigger for freshmen Shenee and
Jenee Holden when they fought
with another girl last year. The
two sisters had been walking home
from school with a large crowd of
friends when an argument broke
out between the sisters’ male
see CATFIGHTS page 23
20 ADS
December 15, 2005
December 15, 2005
Crossing counties for scholastic salvation
Students lie about their zip codes and challenge MCPS to improve their education at Blair
Where only first names appear, names
have been changed to protect the identities of the sources.
Every weekday morning at 6:30
a.m., senior Darren Brown leaves
his home in Kemp Mill Estates and
walks 30 minutes to the nearest
bus stop. From there, he catches a
Ride On and takes it across three
school districts: first Kennedy’s,
then Northwood’s, then Blake’s,
arriving at Blair just as the late bell
Brown is one of an estimated
five to 10 percent of Blazers who,
despite living outside of Blair’s
service area, still attend this school,
according to social studies teacher
Brian Hinkle, a member of Blair’s
Residency Committee. Some students, like Brown, have convinced
the school board to change their
home-school designations, while
others have slipped in under the
administration’s radar. But no
matter how they found their way
into the school, most out-of-district
students share a common goal: to
receive a better education at Blair.
Slipping through the cracks
Before transferring to Blair,
Brown spent his freshman year at
Kennedy, his home school, struggling with peer pressure and a
plummeting GPA. He had grown
up alongside most of his classmates, so he easily made friends
with drug dealers and other troublemakers. Within the first few
weeks of ninth grade, Brown found
himself skipping class with seniors
he had known most of his life, and
he paid the academic price: His
grades were Ds and Es in all his
classes, including gym.
By the end of ninth grade,
Brown knew he couldn’t stay at
Kennedy if he wanted to graduate
from high school. He convinced
his parents that, if he was going to
turn his life around, he needed to
switch to Blair.
Adam, a senior who lives in
Prince George’s County, found
himself in a similar slump four
years ago. In middle school, he
turned in two or three assignments
a week and managed a C average.
He spent the rest of his time joking around with friends and making fun of teachers, who seemed
to give up on him quickly, he remembers. “If you want to learn,
they’ll talk to you, but if you want
to goof off, that’s your problem,”
says Adam.
By the end of eighth grade,
Adam was beginning to get involved with drugs and gangs.
His mother knew that this downward spiral would only continue
if Adam stayed in Prince George’s
County schools: In 2004, Bladensburg, Adam’s home high school,
had a 66 percent graduation rate,
according to the Adequate Yearly
Progress report for the year. In the
same year, 91 percent of Blair seniors graduated.
The decision was simple: Adam’s mother would send him
across the county line to Blair.
Adam recalls his mother’s reasoning: “If I wasn’t running around
with the kind of people I used to,
then I would stay out of trouble
and my grades would be better.”
So far, she has been right. Every morning at 5:40 a.m., Adam
catches a Ride On outside of his
Bladensburg home and makes the
hour-and-a-half-long journey into
Blair’s district. The trip may be
long, but it is well worth it; since
starting at Blair, Adam has avoided his middle-school vices, and his
grades have improved.
Like Adam, Lauren, a senior
who lives with her grandmother in
Kemp Mill, came to Blair seeking
a better education. Even though
she can catch a Ride On bus and
be at Blair in five to seven minutes,
her home school is Kennedy. Unlike Brown, however, Lauren never
gave her home school a chance: She
enrolled in Blair her freshman year
after hearing horror stories about
frequent fights and widespread
drug abuse at Kennedy.
Fighting for a new beginning
Lauren took an easy approach
to securing a place at Blair: She
simply lied about where she lived.
She chose to register at Blair using
her mother’s Silver Spring address
rather than go through the extended process of fighting the school.
While her report cards, test scores
and other official school mail are
still sent to her mother’s home, the
little fib on her registration form
that let her avoid attending Kennedy was well worth some displaced
paperwork, she says.
Graphic by Camille Mackler
Brown, on the other hand, took
the legal route to obtaining a spot
at Blair. He and his parents had
to fight an extended battle with
MCPS in order to get his transfer
from Kennedy approved. He tried
to register for Blair at the end of his
freshman year, but his request was
denied because he lived outside
of Blair’s district. He refused to
give up, however. He and his parents appealed the decision to the
Montgomery County Residency
Office. After weeks of processing,
Brown’s request was approved,
and he transferred to Blair in October of his sophomore year.
Brown’s battle with MCPS was
the product of an outdated system
in which county teenagers were
assigned home schools based on
where they lived. As of last year,
however, efforts like those made
by Brown and Lauren to defy their
home-school designations became
largely unnecessary with the implementation of the Downcounty
Consortium (DCC). Under this
policy, downcounty students are
given a choice of five high schools:
Blair, Einstein, Kennedy, Northwood and Wheaton.
Now, according to Hinkle, students can attend any school within
the DCC as long as they have at
least one tax-paying parent or
guardian living in Montgomery
County. Therefore, he explains,
the Residency Committee is concerned not with cracking down on
out-of-district students but rather
with investigating whether they
pay for the education they get.
Cheating the system
For students like Adam, the answer to that question is no. The
property taxes paid by Adam’s
family benefit Prince George’s
County Public Schools rather than
MCPS, so he is receiving an education from Blair without paying for
it. If the school found out where
Adam lived, he would be forced to
While Hinkle acknowledges
that students who live in Prince
George’s County or Washington,
D.C., can often get better educa-
tions from MCPS than from their
home schools, he points out that
their presence at Blair drains resources from the rest of the student body. “We should be able to
provide more for [students], but
we can’t because people come to
Blair who shouldn’t be here,” says
Hinkle estimates that as many
as 10 percent of Blazers don’t belong at Blair because they either
live outside the DCC or outside the
county. If his guess is correct, and
if all out-of-place students were
removed from Blair’s approximate
population of 3,081 students, the
school would be under-enrolled
for the first time in decades.
Still, Brown doesn’t feel
guilty about attending Blair.
He believes that starting over
at Blair gave him the opportunity to correct the mistakes he
made at Kennedy: His grades
are now Bs and Cs, and his new
friends are positive role models.
Blair, he adds, has given him a
chance for the future. “I made a
turn-around at Blair,” says Brown.
Fighting racism, apathy The perils of Playboy
from RIGHTS Centerspread
inform her peers on the accomplishments
of past and present civil rights leaders.
Operation Understanding D.C. (OUDC),
Accounting teacher Jacquelyn Shropa non-profit organization dedicated to shire was a civil rights activist in her youth.
strengthening relationships and promot- She remembers the struggle that her gening racial understanding between the black eration of black youths endured to make
and Jewish communities. She
great accomplishments in the
believes that many young
segregated South. Between
people are complacent about
the ages of 15 and 17, Shropcivil rights because they take
shire was jailed three times
for granted the goals that the
for protesting segregation in
previous generation of activrestaurants and hotels. These
ists achieved. They don’t refirst-hand experiences make
alize that many more goals
the apathy she sees in her stuhave yet to be attained, she
dents all the more frustrating.
“We need to educate children,
Since her eye-opening exespecially people of color, and
periences in OUDC, Friednot lose the hard work that elman has become more aware Working for equality. ders did to make life better,”
of subtle forms of racism. Photo illustration by
she says.
“I’m a lot less afraid to speak Nic Lukehart
The future of civil rights
up,” she says.
may not seem clearly defined,
Any fears about fighting racism that but the struggle is always alive, says Ned
Forbes might have harbored were shed at Sloan, an attorney with the National Ashome, where a strong focus on black his- sociation for the Advancement of Colored
tory contributed to her dedication to civil People. “It’s never linear; each generation
rights. In class debates, she regularly advo- has to fight its own battle and push for
cates for black rights, and she continues to changes,” he says.
from FEMINISM Centerspread
is bothered by the Playboy shirts. She
senses a significant disconnect between
generations and feels that the main problem among girls today is ignorance of the
feminist movements of previous eras. It
alarms her that so few of her students
can correctly identify significant women’s
rights activists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton
and Gloria Steinem.
Bell feels that this lack of knowledge
affects the behavior of her fellow students
at school and believes that it marks a step
back for women’s rights. “I see girls getting their butts slapped by boys and wearing t-shirts saying things like ‘knock me
up.’ We’re just not walking around with
the same air of dignity we used to,” she
Senior Sarah Peitzmeier feels that the
true meaning of the feminist movement
has been lost in today’s society. Feminists
today are accused of “freaking out over
nothing because they are so emotional and
hormonal,” she says. But to Peitzmeier, being a feminist simply means opposing sexism and supporting gender equality.
But senior Aaron Simon believes that
feminism has become an excuse for wom-
en to blame their problems on men. He
cites female talk shows like “The View,”
which he feels exist to fuel anti-male sentiment among women. “Basically what I see
now is that feminism isn’t standing up for
women anymore — it’s trying to put down
men,” he says. Because of this, Simon feels
that the term “feminist” has developed a
derogatory connotation.
This is one belief that has not changed
over the years, according to social studies teacher Joann Malone, who was often
called names like “bra-burner” for her
role in a women’s improvisational theater
group that worked to raise awareness of
gender inequality during the 1970s.
Now, Malone worries that if students
are allowed to grow up not understanding the main principles of feminism, the
progress made by the women’s rights activists of previous generations might begin
to erode. The first step, she believes, is to
teach students to recognize the various
ways in which sexual exploitation is disguised in society — like the Playboy logo.
“If women don’t understand how difficult
it was to achieve the rights we have today,
we could lose them,” she says. “If we don’t
know our history, we are doomed to repeat
December 15, 2005
December 15, 2005
Feeling budget cutbacks as hunger pangs
Federal food stamp cuts resonate deeply among local families already struggling to survive
from FOOD STAMPS page 1
Health and Human Services, and
at a school where 52 percent of students have at some time received
Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS),
food assistance is a common and often necessary government service.
Now, the aid on which many
Blazers and their families rely could
disappear. On Nov. 18, the U.S.
House of Representatives narrowly
approved the Deficit Reduction Act
of 2005, cutting $50 billion from
federal spending on food stamps,
Medicaid, student loans, child care
and other social services, according
to public officials. The measure
passed 217 to 215 without the support of a single Democrat.
The House bill, currently undergoing reconciliation with the
Senate version, would exclude up to
300,000 current recipients from food
stamps, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
For Blazers who already struggle
to pay for groceries even with
the help of food stamps, the cuts
threaten to empty their pantries.
Less funding, less food
Food stamps provide low-income families with coupons and
Electronic Benefits Transfer cards,
redeemable at authorized food retailers. The food stamps program,
permanently established in 1964, is
administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in
conjunction with state social service
agencies. Eligibility was expanded
in 2002 to simplify the application
process and encompass more immigrants and welfare recipients,
according to the USDA web site.
The current bill aims to reduce
spending on food stamps by limiting eligibility in two main ways.
First, it would increase the waiting
period for immigrants from five to
seven years before they can begin
receiving food stamps.
Laura, a sophomore, worries
that this change would jeopardize
her aunt’s food supply. Her aunt,
a recent immigrant from Ethiopia,
depends on food stamps to feed her
two children.
On a Sunday afternoon, the table
is set with a bowl of steaming spaghetti, and Laura opens the door to
greet her aunt. With her husband
and two children in tow, Laura’s
aunt rushes to the table and piles
a mound of pasta onto her plate.
Laura is not surprised; her aunt’s
family often comes to her house to
eat and then returns home to sleep.
Despite their earnings, Laura’s
aunt, a babysitter, and her husband,
an electrician, can barely afford to
feed their children, even with the
help of food stamps.
The new restriction is designed
to prevent Laura’s aunt and other
legal aliens from exploiting government aid in violation of their
immigration contracts, says Sean
Spicer, communications director for
the House Republican Conference.
“When they come into this country,
they sign an agreement that says
they will not become wards of the
state,” he says.
The bill would also discontinue
automatic food stamps enrollment
for families receiving Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families,
commonly called welfare.
Those who receive welfare cash
benefits will continue to qualify
automatically for food stamps,
while those who receive other
government assistance must reapply individually, according to a
November report by the House
Republican Conference. At the behest of moderate Republicans, the
bill was modified to grandfather in
current recipients who were automatically enrolled through welfare
so that they will not abruptly lose
their benefits.
“Robin Hood in reverse”
In addition to $50 billion in
spending cuts, Congress approved
a $70 billion tax cut, mostly for the
top earning bracket.
“This actually adds $20 billion
to the deficit,” said Congressman
Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) in a
phone interview on Nov. 18. Half of
the tax cuts go to the top 0.2 percent
of Americans, who make over a million dollars a year, he said.
The news draws shock and
indignation from Blair food stamp
recipients, who question why the
wealthy need more tax breaks.
“That’s not right,” Emily exclaims.
“They already have everything, and
they’re taking away from people
who are [less fortunate].”
The House Republican Conference says that the reform will
help end fraud in the food stamps
program and concentrate funding
where it is needed most. Spicer
adds that Republicans did not
propose new tax cuts, but rather re-
Graphic by Camille Mackler
newed cuts that were set to expire.
Van Hollen called the initiative a Republican plan to transfer
wealth to the richest Americans at
the expense of the underprivileged.
Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman agrees. “The
Republican mantra is like Robin
Hood in reverse: Rob the poor to
feed the rich,” he said in a Nov. 3
press release.
Coping with the cuts
Junior Kandace Dejá-Heard perceives the cuts from a socioeconomic, not partisan, perspective. She
resents what she sees as a disregard
for the poor on the part of generally
affluent lawmakers. “Just because
they can live off what they make
doesn’t mean everyone can live off
what they make,” she says.
Dejá-Heard used to receive food
stamps in Georgia, where her extended family still lives in poverty.
She and her immediate family in
Maryland no longer qualify for food
stamps, but her single mother ’s
salary as a firefighter hardly guarantees enough food for her two
Another single parent, sophomore Ashley Gonzalez’s cousin,
relies on food stamps to supplement her salary as a store manager
in order to feed her three children.
Gonzalez cannot imagine how
her cousins will eat without food
stamps, especially since they already have difficulty even with
Although Gonzalez’s cousin will
probably not face exclusion from
the current proposal, more recipients could lose benefits if the federal
cuts are compounded with spending reductions at the state level.
Pointing out Governor Robert
Ehrlich’s precedent of supporting
state initiatives that echo national
Republican-led legislation, Lierman states, “This governor simply
does what President Bush and Tom
DeLay want him to do.”
Budget cuts at any level will
mean “working smarter” and adjusting to less funding, says Connie Tolbert, a spokesperson for the
Maryland Department of Human
Resources. Although any cuts are
bound to compromise the quality
and extent of its services, the state
still offers comprehensive resources
to aid families, she says.
Furthermore, Tolbert expects
rising government collaboration
with private, faith-based organizations to provide food assistance in
the future.
But Van Hollen does not share
Tolbert’s optimism. There are not a
lot of alternatives for families who
lose their food stamps benefits, he
says, emphasizing the importance
of the “safety net” of government
social services.
For some recipients, friends and
family comprise an important part
of that safety net.
Sophomore Yohana Arias, who is
seven months pregnant, considers
herself lucky to have a large extended family that can help support her
baby. She receives food and cash
assistance from the USDA’s Women,
Infants and Children program and
often works nights with her mother,
a custodial supervisor.
For Emily and Rachel, friends,
family and food stamps all helped
their mother afford a full Thanksgiving meal last month. They are
hopeful that their days of churchsponsored charity Thanksgivings are over. Their mother is
interviewing for a new job as she
strengthens in her recovery from
glaucoma, which Emily describes
as miraculous.
Still, their concern over losing
benefits eclipses their hope.
Contemplating the hunger pangs
that could beset her family if their
food stamps were denied and their
futures put into question, Rachel
says simply, “That would be a very
hard time.”
Girls put aside their words and put up their fists
Favoring fights over peaceful conflict resolution, girls defy gender stereotypes of aggression
from CATFIGHTS page 19
cousin and another girl. According to the
sisters, the cousin had approached the girl
with a friendly introduction, but the girl responded with hostility. “She had attitude,”
Shenee says. “She said, ‘What you say ‘hi’
to me for?’”
Other girls in the crowd, indignant on
the cousin’s behalf, began insulting the girl
and calling her names. The girl backed
away from the crowd, but moments later,
her mother and aunt pulled up in a car,
blocking the Holden sisters from crossing
the street.
Trapped in the street, Shenee and the girl
exchanged punches. The girl’s aunt then
joined the fray, shoving Jenee to the ground.
Jenee remembers the girl’s mother yelling,
“Get her, get her!” But luckily, the police
came to break up the fight.
Shenee still cannot understand why the
girl targeted her and her sister in particular.
She believes that the girl had simply never
liked her.
Lee says that hostility between girls can
be bottled up for a long time. The conflict
between her friend and the other girl, for example, had been festering for several months
before it culminated in their
fight last year.
Lee believes the
behavior is more
characteristic of
girls than boys.
“Say I don’t like
you,” she says.
“We could be
beefing for years
before we fight.
If it were guys,
they’d fight right
then and there.”
Rachel Simmons,
of “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of
Aggression in Girls,” has noticed the same
phenomenon with many of the hundreds of
girls she interviewed for her book. “Girls
describe their social communities as worlds
in which unresolved conflicts hang like
leaking gas in the air, creating a treacherous
emotional terrain,” she writes in her book.
Despite — or perhaps because of — their
experiences with violence, most girls who
have been in
fights agree that
physical conflict
is a last resort.
“A girl will talkfight before she
fist-fights,” says
Lee believes
that in this respect,
does play a significant role in
the decision to
fight over stupid things, like
boys,” she explains. “But guys will barely
have a reason to fight.”
Connections teacher Megan Webb puts
the sentiment in a different way. “Girls
will get into more personal arguments,” she
says. “Boys fight over more general things.”
In October, Webb conducted a unit about female aggression in her Connections classes
for the first time. Webb says she put the unit
together partly in response to the fatal Sept.
23 stabbing at Blake, which involved a fight
between girls.
According to Peter Ralston, lab coordinator for the Crick Social Development Lab
at the University of Minnesota, Webb’s observations are not far off the mark. “Girls
in general are more in tune to relationship
dynamics,” he says. But he warns about
making sweeping generalizations involving genders. “There’s a lot of overlap,” he
explains. “You can’t say boys do it one way,
and girls do it another. It all falls on a spectrum.”
It is a spectrum that includes both Armstrong and Rogers. Two years after their
fight, the two friends have set the memory
aside, and neither has gotten into any major
scuffles since. Today, Rogers can even bring
herself to joke about the incident. “[Armstrong’s] blood got onto my shirt, and the
stain won’t never come off,” she says,
December 15, 2005
Compelled to cheat, can’t stop the deceit
December 15, 2005
Feeling the pressure to do well in school, some Blazers cheat compulsively to make the grade
Where only first names appear, names have been
changed to protect the identities of the sources.
Bill waits eagerly within the bustling confines of the SAC during 5A lunch as his friend
approaches an academic support room.
“Hi, I’m Bill and I’m here to make up a
test,” Bill’s friend tells the teacher in charge.
“No, you’re not,” says the teacher. “Bill is
in my class, and you’re not him!”
Bill’s friend quickly ducks out of the room,
narrowly avoiding the teacher ’s probing
questions and any accompanying consequences for attempting to cheat.
When Bill’s friend returns to lunch and
recounts the story to Bill and his friends, they
all share a laugh. Realizing that he will now
have to take the test himself, Bill considers
his remaining options and devises a new
plan to cheat.
Looking back on this memorable incident
from his sophomore year, Bill, now a senior,
smiles at his lackadaisical attitude towards
both schoolwork and cheating. Bill has been
cheating on a fairly regular basis ever since
seventh grade, when he started copying
math homework and cheating on vocabulary
Bill and many other habitual cheaters at
Blair reflect a national trend of teen academic
dishonesty: According to The Center for
Academic Integrity, over 70 percent of highschool students admit to instances of serious
test cheating, and over 60 percent admit to
some form of plagiarism. Bill, who says that
he is addicted to cheating, is one of several
Blazers who, in response to academic pressure, feel the need to cheat compulsively.
Cheating the
things his own way, Bill
often copies homework
and completes work
during lunch or other
classes to avoid doing
any school-related work
in his free time. “I just
don’t like to open my
backpack at home,” he
Paula, a senior and
seasoned cheater, feels
a similar resentment
towards school procedures, namely test-taking. A self-described
bad test-taker, Paula
began cheating because
she wanted to excel in
school and realized that
tests and quizzes often
make up over 50 percent
of her grade in any given
class. “I don’t like that
30 or 40 multiple-choice
questions gauge whether you know a subject,”
she says.
At the height of her
compulsive cheating
behavior, Paula devised
elaborate schemes to cheat on tests, choosing
her seat strategically based on who was the
best person to copy from. “I wouldn’t do
homework,” Paula says. “I spent more time
figuring out how I was going to cheat than I
actually spent studying.”
This compulsion is what differentiates Paula’s cheating habits from those of any other,
more occasional cheater. “It’s a way that some
people cope with
anxieties and take
control over their
environment,” says
social worker Lenore
Shapiro, director of
clinical studies at the
Washington School
of Psychiatry.
“It’s subconscious.
It’s just part of my
daily routine.”
As Bill eats his
lunch at a rowdy
table in the SAC, he
is surrounded by
cheating. Inconspicuous as any other
group of friends sitting amongst a mess
of papers, pens, apples and sandwiches,
Bill’s friends chat as they copy each other’s
homework and try to figure out who will be
able to get the answers to an upcoming test.
At this point in his academic career, Bill is
unfazed by such behavior and admits that
he has cheated at least once in all of his highschool classes with the exception of gym. “I
cheat a lot because homework is unfair,” Bill
says. “We spend six hours a day at school
learning stuff we’re forced to learn, then
we’re expected to go home and, with the
few hours we have before going to sleep, do
more work.”
In an effort to flout the system and do
a senior
Because of several
close calls with teachers, Paula has become
less extreme in her cheating, yet she cannot completely shake the habit. An honors
student, Paula believes that her compulsion
is fueled by her anxiety about school and
drive to succeed in her classes. “One of the
main reasons that I cheat is because I don’t
trust myself,” she says. Even if Paula knows
the material and has studied, she still checks
other people’s papers to be sure. “I don’t
rely on cheating,” she says. “It’s just a way
of checking my work — but through other
Paula is not alone in her dishonesty:
Graphic by Brandon Herbst
Among teenagers who rank at the top of their
classes, 78 percent say that they have cheated
in school, according to USA Today. Joshua
Aronson, a psychology professor at New York
University, is unsurprised by this statistic,
explaining that peer competition and the
need for approval can set the stage for cheating. “People aren’t born to [cheat] by and
large,” says Aronson. “Rather, it tends to be
fostered by social forces that surround them
— a highly competitive atmosphere... that
emphasizes grades and social comparison
and grading on a curve rather than mastery
and love of learning.”
Bill also identifies the pressure of academic
success as his motivation to cheat on a regular
basis. A combination of his parents’ emphasis on good grades and his teachers’ high
expectations pushes Bill to go to great lengths
for a good grade. “If [your performance is]
not strong at the beginning of a quarter then
you’re [screwed] up for the rest of the time
unless you cheat,” he says.
Accustomed to cheating and bending
school rules to his liking, Bill goes by a general
motto when it comes to school: “If it’s an ‘A,’
then it’s not my work,” he says.
Close calls
Both Bill and Paula have almost gotten
caught cheating, but they have largely been
able to avoid getting into serious trouble.
While Bill’s only run-in with a teacher was
the time he tried to get his friend to take a
test for him, Paula has not been as lucky.
She has been accused of cheating various
Taking casual sex to the hallways
from SEX page 19
of whom were suspended. He
says that students who are caught
having sex at Blair would face a
minimum of a 10-day suspension,
possibly with a recommendation
for expulsion and a referral for
So far, Hurley and administrators Suzanne Harvey, James Short
and Linda Wanner have never
had to deal with any incidents involving sex inside Blair. Security
guards Ed Reddick, Jeffrey Seals
and Jose Segura say they have
never seen students having sex on
school grounds.
Staff members do not expect to
catch students in the act, Wanner
says. “There’s certain things not
in the discipline policy that you
would hope people know. You
would think that civilized people
would know not to [have sex in
school],” she says.
Students should realize that
school is simply the wrong place
to have sex, Eisenmann says. Sex
should be a well-planned, safe ex-
perience, and the decision to have
sex at school could indicate an immature or even nonconsensual relationship, she says.
“Just” sex?
In fact, three weeks after Randy
and his girlfriend had sex in the
auditorium, their relationship was
on the rocks. They broke up over
an argument that he now has trouble recalling.
Randy’s short-term affair is not
uncommon in this era of casual
sexual relationships. For Carmen,
a senior, a mere in-school flirtation
escalated into a one-time hookup without the romantic ties. She
and her “random” friend had sex
on the catwalk in the auditorium
during stage crew after school, but
that was the extent of the relationship.
Eisenmann blames this casual
treatment of sex partly on the
sexually explicit media, which has
desensitized teens to the emotional
impact of sex. In fact, a recent study
by the Kaiser Family Foundation
found that in the top 20 television
shows most watched by teenagers,
70 percent included sexual content,
and 45 percent included sexual
behavior. Meanwhile, of all shows
analyzed that included sexual
content, only 14 percent mentioned
the risks or responsibilities that
accompany sexual behavior, including
diseases and unplanned pregnancies.
Bombarded with sexual images in the media, teenagers have
become nonchalant about sex and
its implications, Carmen believes.
“It’s not a big deal anymore to
most, so you have kids running
around giving it to anyone they
can,” she says. “No one cares anymore.”
Abigail agrees, calling it
“just sex.” And if that sex happens at school, then all the better, she says. “It’s like stealing a
candy bar. If you get caught, you
get caught, and you deal with the
consequences,” says Abigail. “If
not, you walk away with a candy
times, but her teachers have never been able
to prove anything other than the fact that her
test or homework is nearly identical to that
of another student. These experiences, however, have not deterred Paula from cheating
on a regular basis. “It’s subconscious — not
something that I mean to do. It’s just part of
my daily routine,” she says.
Though Paula and Bill have both gotten
around Blair’s discipline policy, cheating can
result in serious consequences. Any violation
of the academic honor code or testing procedures results in a no credit on that assignment. The accompanying consequence for
the first offense is a call home, for the second
offense is a two-day in-school suspension
and for the third offense is a two- to five-day
out-of-school suspension.
Looking to the future, Bill plans to eventually stop cheating once he goes to college.
“Since I’ll be learning what I want to learn and
I’ll be paying for my education, there will be
no need to cheat,” he says.
But abruptly ending established habits
is harder than it may seem, according to
Shapiro. “The idea of compulsion is that
somewhere inside [of a person], there is no
choice — they can’t stop,” she says. “They’re
driven to do it.”
For the remainder of high school, though,
Bill does not intend to stop his behavior. As
he finishes up the rest of his lunch, Bill pulls
out some notes from his backpack that bear
someone else’s name in the top right-hand
corner and begins to copy them onto a fresh
piece of paper. “You’ll never catch me, Blair!”
he exclaims.
Every year in the U.S., students miss 22 million school
days due to the common cold.
It is the leading cause
of doctor visits, according to the
National Institutes of Health.
Most colds
occur during
when humidity is low and
common coldcausing viruses can survive.
to the over
viruses known to cause
colds, research suggests that
psychological stress and allergic diseases can increase risk.
General cold symptoms include
mucus buildup in the nose, sinus swelling, sneezing, sore
throat, cough and headache.
There is no known cure for
the common cold, but symptoms can be alleviated by resting in bed, drinking plenty of
fluids, using petroleum jelly
for a raw nose, using
throat spray and
taking aspirin for
a headache or
cold this season,
wash hands often, cover your
nose and mouth
when sneezing
or coughing and
keep your hands
away from your face,
as cold germs can easily
enter the body through the eyes
and nose.
Information compiled from the
National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases web site, http://
December 15, 2005
One, two: hooked on Sudoku
At Blair, Japanese number puzzle an addictive pastime
The Kiltics, Blair’s own Celtic group, bring Ireland’s green fields
to the Blair coffeehouse on Nov. 18. Photo by Rayna Andrews
Celtic revelry in kilts
The crowd at last summer’s
Washington Folk Festival claps
along to the thumping beat of
the bodhran, a traditional Celtic
drum, immersed in the ancient
music of far-off lands that emanates from the performers on
stage. As their voices raise in a
harmonic Gaelic chorus, it’s clear
that they are not a typical highschool garage band.
The performers are the Kiltics, a group of Blair students who
sing traditional Celtic music with
the occasional Scottish and Irish
Gaelic vocals, do not use electric
instruments and, of course, perform every show clad in kilts.
Hidden talents
It all started two years ago,
when Celtic music aficionados
Tess Minnick and Nora Arnold,
both seniors, realized their shared
passion for the genre. “I gave
Nora this Celtic CD and we just
started singing in the halls,” says
Minnick. The two found bandmates in old friends and peers,
including seniors Sarah Janesko
and Jon Musgrave and junior
Laura Cole.
The Celtic music the Kiltics
play is characterized by the use
of string, wind and reed-free in-
struments, according to the Ceolas Celtic Music Archive. Janesko
provides the group with melodies on her mandolin, five-string
viola and fiddle. The fiddle is
a dominant aspect of all Celtic
music, and Janesko’s fast fingerwork gives songs a festive touch.
Musgrave plays the guitar and
bodhran drum, one of the few
percussion instruments known to
the genre. The band is rounded
out with a myriad of instruments,
including a pennywhistle, finger
cymbals and a jaw harp.
These instruments are combined with the Kiltics’ most impressive gift — their voices. As
with traditional Celtic music, the
group members’ voices rise and
fall in passionate harmony. Minnick’s Irish heritage has provided
her with a knack for “conversational Gaelic,” she says, a skill
that has helped her fellow group
members learn some of the more
difficult songs.
For the Gaelic songs, Minnick
writes out lyrics phonetically for
her bandmates. Their methods
Find the rest of the story at http://
Catch the Kiltics performing at tomorrow night’s SGR Spectacular at
6:30 p.m. in the SAC.
Eraser shavings are stuck
to my sleeves and my pencil is
poised, ready to scribble notes on
a scrap of newsprint. I can barely
hear my friends calling in the distance as they munch away at their
lunches. As usual, I am much too
immersed in filling in the empty
squares of the grid at the back of
the Style section to notice.
This newcomer to newspapers
is Sudoku, a logic game of numbers. Since it was introduced to
English newspapers in November
2004 by puzzle designer Wayne
Gould, almost every major newspaper in the world has picked up
Sudoku, and hundreds of web
sites and workbooks are now devoted to supplying and solving
these brain teasers.
Blair is no exception — many
Blazers have discovered Sudoku’s allure. According to an informal Silver Chips survey of 100
students on Oct. 18 during 5B
lunch, 25 percent of Blazers play
Sudoku. Many Blazers have gotten caught up in this seductively
simple game and are finding that
filling empty squares in a grid is
a surprisingly satisfying way to
pass the time.
The universal language
Though Sudoku is relatively
new to Blair, its origins can be
traced back to Magic Squares,
a mathematical arrangement of
numbers that the Chinese, Arabs
and Greeks experimented with,
according to a press release by
Crosswords, Ltd. Versions of the
game appeared in Dell Magazine
in the U.S. in the early 1980s under the title “Number Place.” It
was then discovered by the Japanese company Nikoli, which renamed it “Sudoku,” Japanese for
“single numbers.” Sudoku soon
took on its current form — 81
boxes divided into nine columns,
nine rows and nine boxes, each
of which must be filled with the
numbers one through nine without repeating.
Gould’s company, Pappocom,
picked up the puzzle from Nikoli
and introduced it to newspapers
in 56 countries, including the U.S.
Unlike word puzzles, Sudoku
crosses borders easily because
it is in the universal language of
numbers, Gould says.
Senior Cesar Nalvarte first
spotted Sudoku alongside the
crossword puzzle in The Washington Post’s Style section and
has been hooked ever since.
The appeal, Nalvarte explains,
is that, unlike crosswords, Sudoku requires no real prior knowledge. “You don’t need to know
arbitrary things — just numbers,”
he says.
In addition, the directions for
the game are relatively straightforward, says Mike Mepham, the
head of, a Sudoku
company based in Great Britain.
“[Sudoku] has very simple rules
that may be understood by anyone from eight-year-olds to 98year-olds,” Mepham says.
While these are the more obvious attractions of Sudoku, Marcel
Danesi, author of “The Puzzle
Instinct,” suggests there are underlying, subconscious reasons
people are fascinated by puzzles.
People are never really taught to
complete puzzles, Danesi says.
Instead, the urge to complete a
puzzle is more of a natural impulse.
Danesi believes that people
are drawn to puzzles because
they present tangible and upfront ways to reach resolutions.
“Puzzles seem to be models of
the larger scale questions humans
ask. We don’t get the satisfaction
with the larger ones, but we sure
as hell get them here,” he says.
Sudoku’s accessibility and
simplicity make it popular, says
“[Sudoku] presents
itself as a curiosity that intrigues
people, then once they have started it there is the challenge to finish it, culminating in the euphoria at the completion that makes
you want to start another,” he
Getting hooked
It is this euphoria that has kept
freshman Asha Diggs struggling
to fill as many empty Sudoku
grids as she can get her hands on.
Once she finishes one, “I just have
to do another one,” she says, “and
then the cycle just continues.”
For most Blazers, Sudoku
counteracts boredom. When junior Amani Foster came to school
one day without her usual Sudoku puzzle to get her through
her classes, she begged one of her
friends to rip one out of his puzzle book. But, like a true Sudoku
addict, her friend couldn’t bear to
part with the puzzle.
While Sudoku has been called
the “Rubik’s Cube of the 21st century” by many newspapers, according to Mepham, it is bound
to taper off in popularity like
any craze. Still, following in the
footsteps of the crossword, puzzles like Sudoku are here to stay.
“You’ll still be seeing it next to the
crossword in 80 years time,” Mepham says.
Sudoku 101: by the numbers
Fill in the boxes
so that every row,
column and bolded 3x3 box has the
numbers 1-9.
Hint: Keep a
running list of
possible values for
each blank square
in small print at
the top of the box.
Use a pencil!
Puzzle by John
BEYOND the Boulevard
“King Kong” (PG-13) - Still basking in his
post-“Lord of the Rings” glory, Peter Jackson
is now attempting to make a new name for
himself outside of Shire. The remake of the
classic “King Kong” takes Jackson far away
from his furry-footed friends and into the
clutches of a very large, hairy ape. Starring
Jack Black, Adrien Brody and Naomi Watts,
this star-studded, action-packed, special-effects-heavy film looks — let’s face it — downright cool, if a little melodramatic. (Dec. 16)
“Memoirs of a Geisha” (PG-13) - Based on
Arthur Golden’s bestselling novel, “Memoirs of a Geisha” is a tale of love, beauty
and jealousy set in Japan at the onslaught of
World War II. From the elaborate costumes
to the heartfelt performances, “Memoirs of
a Geisha” is sure to capture the hearts and
imaginations of many. (Dec. 16)
“Cheaper by the Dozen 2” (PG) - This film
is by far the most unnecessary release of the
season. A sequel to the nauseatingly stupid
“Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Dozen” part deux
simply should not exist. A moment of silence
is in order for Steve Martin’s swiftly plummeting career, and Hilary Duff couldn’t act
her way out of a paper bag. (Dec. 23)
“The Producers” (PG-13) - Piggy-backing on
the “Chicago” tidal wave that made musicals
acceptable screen-fare again, Mel Brooks’s
“The Producers” stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick as producers looking to make
more money off of a Broadway flop than a hit.
Add a few songs, old ladies with walkers,
Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell, and we have
ourselves a sure-fire hit. (Dec. 23)
“Rumor Has It” (PG-13) - In this doomed
holiday release, Jennifer Aniston stars as
Sarah Huttinger, a young woman who learns
that her family was the inspiration for “The
Graduate.” Skirting the line between sequel
and rip-off, this film is even further proof
that Hollywood is running low on original
screenplay ideas. (Dec. 25)
“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” (PG-13) - Just
in time for the holiday season, this DVD is
sure to brighten up the mood of any holiday
party because, hey, what gets you in the mood
for the holidays more than demonic possession? (Dec. 20)
“ER: The Complete Fourth Season” (TV-14)
For any die-hard “ER” fans who wish to
hearken back to the glory days of what “ER”
used to be, the fourth season DVD may just
be the perfect holiday gift. (Dec. 20)
“Must Love Dogs” (PG-13) - This film, starring veterans Diane Lane and John Cusack,
follows older singles as they try to look for
love, resorting so far as to personal ads. If
John Cusack weren’t so darn cute, this film
about middle-aged loners would just be depressing. (Dec. 20)
Bon Jovi at the MCI Center, $49.50-$98 (Dec.
Army of Me at the Black Cat, $9 (Dec. 17)
Princess Superstar at Sonar, $12 (Dec. 20)
Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the MCI Center,
$39.50-$43.50 (Dec. 22)
What I Like About Jew at the Birchmere,
$17.50 (Dec. 26)
The Roots at the 9:30 Club, $35 (Dec. 26)
James Brown with Chuck Brown & The Soul
Searchers at the 9:30 Club, $55 (Dec. 28)
Trans Am at the Black Cat, $12 (Dec. 29)
To buy tickets, call (202) 423-SEAT or visit
Beyond the Boulevard compiled
by Nora Boedecker
New stories are up on
Silver Chips Online
• Survival on minimum
wage: New legislation may
change the lives of students
who work full time
by Christine Kim
• Thin is in: Pressured by the
media, some Blazers go to
extreme measures to achieve
the “perfect” body
by Katherine Duncan
• Living his American dream:
Pakistani senior tackles the
college application process
by Ashley Lau
Look under “Print Edition” at
December 15, 2005
December Crossword
by John and Christopher Silberholz
_____ away from, avoids
Response to an insult
Dance for high-school seniors
Condoleeza Rice, familiarly
Rel- or retr- suffix
Harry Potter’s brainy buddy
(2 words)
Covered in liquid
Metal-bearing material
Render harmless
Right guard neighbors in
football, abbr.
_____ upon, to need
English political documents,
or graduation honors
For, in Madrid
Singular prefix
“Harry Potter and the _____
of Secrets”
Q-U connector
School organization, abbr.
Hunter constellation
Chemical suffix
Years in a decade
Harry Potter’s least favorite
Dr. _____, rapper
Creepy cave dweller
Myanmar capital, nowadays
Integ- or spi- suffix
Fannie _____, mortgage broker
Dec- and lemon- suffix
Carcinogenic home insulation, abbr.
Harry Potter’s worst fear (3
_____ Aid
Cave’s response
“Pocket full of _____”
Sounds of excitement (plural)
Tens of grams, alternate abbr.
Low Concentration
Context Optional
Submit completed crosswords to room 158 by Dec. 20.
The winner will receive two movie tickets. Congratulations
to last issue’s winner, junior James Paarporn.
Speed measure, abbr.
The species of Hagrid’s pet
dragon, first of two words
Bully’s self-description (2
This paper’s online counterpart, for short
Samurai virtue
Formal title
Sanctioned by the law
Death Eater family name
Hairdo for 14 across
Academic trivia show, for
short (2 words)
Harry Potter’s dream job
A necessity (2 words)
To let loose, when armed
Coin of little value
Pablo Picasso’s product
Ghost’s welcome
The species of Hagrid’s pet
dragon, second word
Late South Carolina senator
Young adults
Kindergartner’s alternative
Assassinated Egyptian leader
Ron Weasley catch phrase
It broadcasts in AM and FM
Aids, in a criminal sense
Fire starter
To love
Stringed instrument
“No,” colloquially
Classified section contents
Coins in a pocket, abbr.
Muhammad Ali’s specialties,
by Sean Griffin
by Nathan Yaffe
15 de diciembre del 2005
¡Tenemos espiritú!
Blair optiene el Progreso Anual Adecuado
Blair cumplió los requisitos en lectura y satisfizó los requisitos para el Progreso Anual Adecuado para el año 2005. Después
de no haberlo conseguido en geometría por dos años consecutivos, los requisitos fueron logrados para el año escolar 20042005.
Para satisfacer los requisitos establecidos por el acta de “No
Child Left Behind” del 2001, cada escuela en el estado de Maryland tiene que satisfacer unos requisitos anuales. Si la escuela
no logra estos requisitos en la misma área por dos años seguidos, entra en probatoria. Una vez mantiene los requisitos por
dos años seguidos se le remueve la clasificación.
La Corte Suprema decide en ‘Schaffer v. Weast’
El 14 de noviembre la Corte Suprema dictaminó en favor
de MCPS en el caso de la administración de los planes de Educación Especial en las escuelas. El caso es en relación a la implementación de los Programas Individuales de Educación. El acta
para los Individuos con Discapacidad requiere que las escuelas
provean esta ayuda para mejorar la enseñanza a estos estudiantes.
El condado demanda al FDA
De acuerdo al Washington Post, el condado de Montgomery tiene planeado demandar al Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acerca de los planes que tiene el condado para
comprar medicamentos en Canadá. El ejecutivo del condado,
Douglas Duncan, dijo que él espera recibir permiso del FDA
para importar medicamentos de Canadá.
El Ayuntamiento del condado pasó un proyecto de ley el
primero de noviembre donde establece de que los empleados
del condado tengan la oportunidad de importar medicinas a
bajo costo de las farmaceúticas Canadienses.
Clubes en Blair ofrecen una charla sobre Sudan
El 17 de noviembre, John Heffernan, un investigador de
“Physicians for Human Rights”, diseminó información acerca
del genocidio en Sudan. La charla fue auspiciada por el club
de los Estudiantes para la Responsabilidad Global y Amnistía
Internacional. La presentación tuvo lugar desde las 2:10 p.m.
hasta las 3 p.m., la cual cubrió una variedad de temas relacionados con el presunto genocidio en Darfur. Su discusión incluyó
una breve historia de la crisis, un video que él y un compañero
filmaron en Sudan a principio del año y una sesión corta de preguntas y respuestas.
Heffernan vivió en Sudan por dos años durante los años
noveinta. Visitó docenas de pueblos y entrevistó a numerosos
refugiados. Sus esfuerzos contribuyeron a la respuesta de los
Estados Unidos en relación a esta crisis. Los grupos anfitriones
esperan que su visita despierte interés en crear otras actividades
en Blair para beneficiar los refugiados.
Tiroteo en el Beltway
El primero de diciembre la policía persiguió a la hora de tráfico por el Beltway a cuatro sospechosos de haber robado. La
persecusión terminó creando un accidente en Colesville Rd.,
donde los sospechosos se vieron envueltos. Tres de ellos fueron
arrestados; uno fue llevado al Hospital Medstar después de recibir un balazo de la policía.
Policías fuera de uniforme vieron a los cuatro sospechosos,
tres mujeres y un hombre, comportándose de manera sospechosa en el centro comercial Tysons Corner. Al salir éstos fueron detenidos, pero ellos respondieron de manera violenta y se oyeron
disparos. Dos policías fueron heridos en el altercado.
Traducciones hechas por Dora González
Las porristas de Blair gritan y alientan a la muchedumbre durante la competición del 10 de
diciembre. El grupo llegó en segundo lugar en la competición. Photo por Hannah Rosen
Cursos ingenierías comenzarán
Eventos organizados para promover la diversidad
El próximo año, los estudiantes
que estarán ingresando a su segundo
año de secundaria, serán los primeros en participar en el programa preparativo propuesto en parte por Dr.
James Distler, uno de los consejeros
de Blair. El condado espera que el
programa atraiga a más estudiantes
a estudiar ingeniería y en un futuro
así poder disminuir la falta de ingenieros que existe hoy en día.
El programa, al nivel del condado,
consiste de cuatro cursos, cada uno
dos semestres del año escolar. Distler
reconoce que muchos de los estudiantes que llevan cursos de honor se
resisten a tomar cursos de instrucción tecnológica (“Tech-Ed”) porque
éstos pueden reflejarse pobremente
en el promedio general de notas. Por
esta razón, el condado ofrecerá clases
designadas de honor. “Tenemos que
ofrecerle buenas opciones a nuestros
estudiantes”, Distler dijo.
El programa recibirá fondos del
Acta Perkins, que autorizó en el 1984
a proveerle ayuda a programas que
son la base de una carrera o para
programas técnicos, de acuerdo a
la Asociación de Educación Técnica
y de Carrera. Por otro lado, el Acta
Perkins se enfoca en exámenes y
contabilidad. Como consecuencia,
Distler y otros creadores del programa tuvieron que crear exámenes
y objetivos curriculares antes de
regresar al salón de clases a enseñar
el material en el aula.
Sólo tres de las 21 escuelas secundarias en el condado de Montgomery ofrecen cursos de ingeniería. Thomas Edison provee el
entrenamiento que los estudiantes
necesitan para ésta carrera y el programa “Project Lead the Way”, un
programa colegial de ingeniería, está
disponible en Col. Zadok Magruder
y Poolesville. Distler cree que estas
opciones no son suficientes para
“inundar a los estudiantes de oportunidades” a estudiar ingeniería, y
cree que el nuevo programa logrará
Distler cree que si la escuela del
estudiante no provee un programa
de pre-ingeniería, entonces el estudiante debe de tener la opción de ir
a una escuela que sí la tenga, algo
que podría crear demasiados estudiantes en una sola escuela. Para
disminuir esta posibilidad, él y los
otros creadores del programa sólo
harán disponible la primera clase de
la secuencia, “Ingeniería Creativa”,
para el próximo año. Las otras tres
cursos se integrarán gradualmente.
A la misma vez que éstos sean integrados, otras clases de ingeniería
serán eliminadas como “Comunicaciones” y “Tech-Ed”.
“Ingeniería Creativa” está diseñada para estudiantes de segundo
año que sobresalen en matemáticas y
ciencias y están interesados en ser ingenieros. Los programas del futuro
enfocarán más en las matemáticas
avanzadas para diseñar y generar
proyectos de ingeniería. Los cursos
culminarán en la posibilidad de
tomar el curso en la Universidad de
Maryland (UMD) para así recibir
crédito universitario.
Los líderes educacionales de esta
carrera como Dr. Nariman Farvardin, Dean of A. James Clark School
of Engineering en la UMD, están
preocupados que el número de estudiantes que son certificados como
ingenieros al final de sus estudios
declina cada vez más, una situación
muy serio. Si otros países hacen
avances tecnológicos, la economía
del país sufrirá. Para prevenir esto,
se debe cultivar el interés por la ingeniería en la secundaria o antes,
para que ésta sea una carrera de
estudio, algo que intenta lograr el
programa del condado.
Traducciones hechas por Kathie Arana
Los talleres de Magnet intentan promover la diversidad
Dos talleres de solicitud al Programa Magnet se llevaron acabo el 3 y el 9 de noviembre
como parte del continuo esfuerzo por parte
del gobierno para incrementar la presencia
de minorías en el programa Magnet del
Las sesiones, una en White Oak y la otra
en Gaithersburg, dieron la oportunidad a
los padres de familia a recibir una orientación general del proceso de solicitud y la
oportunidad de platicar con la facultad y los
voluntarios del programa. Traductores de
Chino, Francés, Koreano, Español y Vietnamés estuvieron disponibles.
De acuerdo a la coordinadora de Magnet
en Blair, Eileen Steinkraus, quién asistió a una
de las dos funciones, informó que muchos
de los que llegaron eran padres inmigrantes
recién llegados que tenían poco conocimiento
de las opciones que los estudiantes avanzados reciben. “Hemos llegado muy lejos en
nuestro alcance a los padres de estudiantes
nuevos al país y al condado”, afirmó ella.
Los talleres fueron patrocinados por El
Condado de Montgomery y La Asociación
Nacional para el Avance de Gente de Color
del Concejal de Padres del Condado de
Montgomery. Entre los temas de discusión
se habló de qué se debe tomar en cuenta para
tomar el examen con referencia al programa.
También se discutió que hay centros de programas similares en la escuela elemental, en
las escuelas intermedias de Takoma Park y
Roberto Clemente. Además del programa
Magnet de Blair, existe el programa IB en la
Escuela Secundaria Richard Montgomery.
Estos programas siempre han contenido
un número pequeño y desproporcionado, de
acuerdo a Martin Creel, el director de La División de Instrucción Acelerada y Enriquecida
del condado. Cuando fueron primeramente
introducidos hace 20 años, Magnets eran una
forma de integrar a escuelas con una mayoría
de minorías. En 1985 Blair le dio bienvenida
a sus Magnets en una escuela, que en aquel
entonces tenía pocos estudiantes y en la cual
en su mayoría eran minorías.
Cuando la segregación dejó de ser un
conflicto, la falta de balance racial en Magnet
contrarió a varios grupos minoritarios de padres. En marzo, los Padres Afro-Americanos
de Solicitantes a Escuelas Magnets lanzaron
una campaña, la cual no dio resultado alguno,
para que suspendieran el proceso de solicitud
de las escuelas intermedias para el programa
ya que las estadísticas demuestran que un
bajo porcentaje de solicitantes negros son porción son los requisitos para solicitar. Los
aceptados comparados con los solicitantes cursos y el criterio para el Magnet incluía una
solicitud con la lista de actividades extracurriblancos o asiáticos.
Los que se oponen a estos programas dicen culares y los logros del estudiante, un exámen
que el Magnet y otros programas promovían y recomendaciones de profesores. Aunque
el seguimiento de un grupo específico de los comités no consideran raza, Steinkraus
estudiantes. “La
dijo que al revisar que
manera en la cual
el estudiante tuviera
MCPS maneja sus
almuerzo gratis o reprogramas es que
ducido (FARMS), esto
l o s g ru p o s m á s
mejoró la diversidad
bajos no reciben
del programa ya que
las mismas oporlos estudiantes pobres
no fueron penalizatunidades de educación”, dijo Mark
dos por sus oportuniAdelman, tesorero
del condado. Por
MCPS ha logrado ir
ejemplo, hay un
más allá de los tallerdisparidad consipara promover la
-Tesorero del condado es
diversidad en estos
derable en la maMark Adelman programas especiatricula de matemáticas avanzadas.
les. La División de
Aunque el 42 por
Instrucción Acelerada
ciento de negros o hispanos formaron parte y Enriquecida también distribuyó 60 mil codel cuerpo estudiantil del condado en el 2004- pias de panfletos titulado “Opciones”, el cual
2005, sólo 24 por ciento de los estudiantes de notificaba a los padres acerca de programas
octavo grado eran elegibles para solicitar al que ellos desconocian.
programa Magnet.
Otro factores que han creado la despro- Traducciones hechas por Kathie Arana
“Los grupos más bajos
no reciben las mismas
oportunidades en la
December 15, 2005
From Blazer Field to a major deal
After a successful tryout, Blair graduate lives his dream of playing professional baseball
Long days in the heat of summer, strenuous exercise, blood,
sweat and tears left on the field:
For 2002 Blair graduate Robert
Rifkin, baseball is worth these
sacrifices. Whether practicing his
fielding or cracking line drives
in the batting cages, Rifkin eats,
sleeps and breathes the game. Like
many other baseball players, Rifkin
dreamed of being able to play professionally, but unlike most, Rifkin
stuck with it. Although he never
played baseball for Blair, Rifkin’s
dream is becoming a reality: He is
now a professional ball player.
The prospects for any highschool baseball player looking to
play professionally are daunting in
such a highly competitive business.
According to High School Baseball
Web, a web site designed to inform
high-school baseball players about
playing professionally, only about
one in 200 high-school seniors
playing baseball will eventually be
drafted by an MLB team.
Because Rifkin didn’t play on
the Blair baseball team, he found
himself at an even bigger disadvantage. Statistics, however, did
not discourage Rifkin from trying
out for the Florida Marlins last
summer. Through hard work and
determination, Rifkin was able
to make the team and achieve his
goal of playing professionally.
The road to the big leagues
Rifkin fell in love with the game
when he was five years old. “My
parents signed me up for tee ball
like any other kid, and I really just
picked it up,” says Rifkin. His parents continued to encourage him,
and he played yearly in Babe Ruth
leagues as a pitcher, a position he
held throughout high school.
Then, during his freshman year,
he played on a summer league
under a former Blair JV baseball
coach, where a number of bad experiences discouraged Rifkin from
playing for Blair. It was a difficult
experience for Rifkin, because it
meant leaving many of his old
teammates behind, including 2002
Blair graduate Josh Richardson,
now a player for the University of
Indiana. “Josh and I played in the
same leagues growing up, and he
was one of the people that encouraged and inspired me to keep playing,” says Rifkin. He remained
distant from the team for the rest
of high school.
After graduating, Rifkin played
infield at Montgomery College,
where he did not receive the same
positive support he had growing
up and playing in development
leagues. Rifkin was not particularly encouraged by the head
coach or the infield coach at Montgomery College, but it was there
that he met pitching coach Duck
Lee, who helped spur Rifkin on to
greater things. “He told me I had
very good stuff, and I really took
that to heart,” says Rifkin. “He encouraged me more than any other
coach I ever had.”
With Lee’s support, Rifkin intensified his efforts to improve.
He spent long hours in the weight
room and even more time on the
field taking grounders and throws
to first, working to minimize errors
in his defensive game.
Baseball left him little time for
other activities, but his efforts led
to significant improvement in his
game. “I became so focused on
getting better that I spent little
time on anything else in college,”
says Rifkin. Then, after two years
playing fall ball, Lee suggested to
Rifkin that he should consider going pro.
Batter up!
With Lee’s words echoing in his
head, Rifkin jumped on a flight to
Fort Myers, Florida, where the Boston Red Sox were holding tryouts
for their rookie baseball program.
Tryouts were split into three sections, culminating in hitting practice before the final cut.
Initially, Rifkin was confident
about his performance, competing
with only 15 other players under
the age of 25. “I knew I had a very
solid game defensively and would
be very competitive in the fielding
part of tryouts,” says Rifkin.
Rifkin’s performance impressed
a number of the scouts present, and
after the tryouts, a scout for the
Florida Marlins met with Rifkin
and offered him a chance to play
in their minor league system. “He
asked me if I would have time to
play in the spring, and I told him I
would make time,” says Rifkin.
Rifkin signed with the Marlins
and in August traveled to North
Carolina to play in a fall instructional league with the Greensboro
Grasshoppers, the Marlins’ Class A
minor league team. There, Rifkin
got his first taste of life in the minor leagues, waking up early for
practices, playing up to four games
a week and spending much of his
time trying to sleep on the long bus
Rifkin holds less than fond
memories of the traveling conditions the team faced. “The food
we ate was absolutely disgusting,
and then we either slept in really
cheap and dirty motels or on the
bus ride traveling from one place
to another,“ he says.
The long trips and early practices began wearing Rifkin down,
but he was able to maintain his
enthusiasm for the game despite
his homesickness. “It really makes
you miss home. That was the hardest thing for me,” he says.
Overcoming the obstacles
Only 10 days into his stint with
the Grasshoppers, Rifkin faced his
first major setback. During a routine physical, he was diagnosed
with mild tendonitis in his right
knee. Though the injury was minor, if he kept playing, Rifkin ran
the risk of hurting his knee even
Not wanting to jeopardize his
entire professional career, Rifkin
decided to sit out and let his knee
heal. “I was really disappointed
about having this professional experience cut short, but injuries happen, and what was most important
to me was just to get better and get
back out on the field,” he says.
Blair graduate Robert Rifkin, a pitcher in college, is now an infielder
playing in the Florida Marlins system. Photo courtesy of Robert Rifkin
Refusing to be discouraged,
Rifkin immediately began the rehabilitation process. In order to combat tendonitis, Rifkin takes joint relief medicine and goes to the gym
everyday for a strict workout.
His efforts have helped him fully overcome his injury, and Rifkin
feels ready and excited for spring
training. “I’m feeling 100 percent
right now and am looking forward
to trying out in the spring,” he
says. Rifkin intends to play in the
Marlins’ minor league system this
Rifkin continues to strive to-
wards his dream of playing professionally. He refuses to dwell on the
slim chances he has of making it
into Major League Baseball, which
he does not consider a rational
goal. “It’s unrealistic to think Major League,” says Rifkin. “Right
now, I’m just shooting to get better
and better, and who knows what
the future holds.”
Rifkin estimates his chances of
making it into the big leagues at
about one percent, but he remains
optimistic, refusing to let the numbers prevent him from playing the
game he loves.
Wrestling rallies for victory over B-CC
Senior captain Jean Ulysse (160 pounds) gets the better of his B-CC opponent on Dec. 7. He
won the match thanks to a pin, and Blair emerged victorious, 42-34. Photo by Nic Lukehart
The Blair wrestlers opened up the season
with a 42-34 win against Bethesda-Chevy
Chase (B-CC), proving that even with two
forfeits they could more than hold their own
against the Barons.
The match opened with Blair juniors Nic
Lukehart (130 pounds) and Jon Berger (135
pounds) both getting pinned after putting
up hard fights.
Both athletes, wrestling at higher weight
classes than usual, struggled due to the size
advantage of their opponents.
But things began looking up for the Blazers when sophomore Phine Ulysse (140
pounds) stepped onto the mat, dominating
his opponent. Ulysse took a commanding
11-0 lead in his match, ending it with a pin
as the clock wound down towards the end
of the first period.
Next, junior Max Lockwood (145
pounds) pinned his opponent in the second
period to push Blair to a tie with B-CC at 12
points each. Sophomore Tim Visclosky (152
pounds) extended Blair’s winning streak,
fighting through a nosebleed and a broken
finger until the end of the third period and
winning 16-14.
Excitement on the Blazers’ side mounted
as senior captain Jean Ulysse (160 pounds)
pinned his opponent with only one second
left in the first period, extending Blair’s lead
to 21-12. But Blair’s comfortable lead soon
evaporated when junior Mike Street (171
pounds) lost 14-5, despite a strong start.
This defeat, coupled with senior James
Gillette’s (189 pounds) forfeit due to injury
and another forfeit in the 215-pound class,
left the Blazers down seven points with just
five matches left.
Yet the Blazers managed to come back
and win four of those matches, finishing
the match with an uplifting and surprising comeback victory. Sophomore Charles
Chikelu (275 pounds) overpowered his opponent and slammed him to the mat to cut
Blair’s deficit to one point. After senior Patrick Lao (112 pounds) and junior Jake Weinfeld (119) won their matches with pins, Blair
took the lead by five.
In order to secure the victory for the Blazers, sophomore Haben Ghebremeschel (125
pounds) needed to avoid being pinned in
his match. He stayed up and beat his opponent in a minor decision to give the Blazers
their first win of the season.
Coach Jake Scott commended the team’s
performance, but he believes that the boys
could have improved by being more aggressive. “We were timid, which is normal for
our first match,” he said.
Jean Ulysse felt that although the team
did well, there was room for the young
squad to improve. “We could do a lot better. [B-CC] is a young team and our team is
good,” he said.
The wrestling team will next travel to
Sherwood to face the Warriors on Dec. 17.
December 15, 2005
Reviewing the year with holiday cheer
A look back at sports figures and highlights that made 2005 a year to be thankful for
t’s hard to believe that the
holidays are already here. Not
only are they a chance to spend
hundreds of dollars on stuff
nobody wants, but they’re also a
time to spend with those closest to
me. That and getting free gifts.
More importantly, the world of
sports is winding down another
year that gave me a lot to be thankful for. With apologies to Dave
Anderson of The New York Times,
here is my list of athletes who were
full of holiday spirit in 2005.
I am very grateful for Gilbert
Arenas and Antawn Jamison, different personalities with one thing
in common: tremendous basketball
skills. The duo has resuscitated the
Washington Wizards and made the
MCI Center slightly less boring than
it has been in recent memory. The
only question is which one will be
the first to get hurt carrying the
franchise on his back.
A thank-you goes out to Rafael
Palmeiro, as well. As the Baltimore
Orioles’ season was caving in on
itself, his positive steroids test gave
me an easy scapegoat on which
to blame such a disappointing
Nobody embodies the spirit of
the holidays like Chad Johnson.
The Cincinnati Bengals wideout
has injected fun back into an NFL
product that seems to be growing
more generic and stale each season.
From his gold teeth to his clever
touchdown celebrations, Johnson is
a rare athlete who can talk a lot of
smack and then bring it on the field.
And in a touchdown dance a couple
of weeks ago, he used an end zone
pylon as a putter to imitate Tiger
Woods. Who doesn’t love that?
Since he can’t speak English very
well, Washington Capitals forward
Alexander Ovechkin lets his play
do the talking for him. The über-aggressive rookie is well on his way to
a 45-goal season, and he’s just three
years older than I am.
If the Caps are doomed to finish
last this year, at least it’s with one of
the most exciting players the NHL
has seen in years. Still, Ovechkin
has yet to fulfill the one major re-
quirement for being a Washington
Capital: blowing out his knee.
Ovechkin is able to score plenty
of goals because the new NHL
rules have caused scoring to go up
exponentially. Nearly seven goals
are being scored per game, up from
around 4.5 the last time there was
hockey. I’ve heard announcers say,
“What a game!” dozens of times
already this season, and they’re
right every time. If the league could
just figure out how to market itself,
hockey could become very popular.
Not quite on the level of curling or
Iranian water polo, but popular
Speaking of marketing, I think
I should hire Drew Rosenhaus to
be my agent. The Miami-based
lawyer has been at the forefront
of the Terrell Owens debacle in
Philadelphia. While Rosenhaus
has encouraged his client to whine
about his $50 million contract and
to talk smack about the rest of his
team, he has also helped Owens
— and others — land huge multiyear contracts. All I get for writing
on this paper is a free coupon to
California Tortilla.
And how about Terrell Owens! I
am thankful that this man has been
a scapegoat for the Eagles’ problems. Sure, he’s a selfish jerk who
seeks to take down any authority
figures, but he’s not that bad. He
has no criminal record, he doesn’t
slap women or smoke weed and
he’s also the best wide receiver in
the NFL. If you want to win football games, sometimes you have to
swallow a bitter pill like T.O.
Someone who definitely isn’t
bitter is Danica Patrick. Not only
can she make TV ads for anti-freeze
sexy, but she also has single-handedly helped make the Indy Racing
League relevant again. Sure, she
hasn’t won a race yet, but think for a
minute. Who looks better in a tight
racing suit: she or Tony Stewart?
Swim team creams QO
Medley Relay event with a team of freshman
Melanie Snail, sophomore Elissa Fischel, junior Christie Lin and senior captain Diana
Frey. They also took first in the 400 Freestyle
Both the boys and girls swim teams Relay with a team of senior captains Anna
won the first divisional meets of the season Chiplis and Kelsey Dean, junior captain Salagainst the Quince Orchard (QO) Cougars. ly Chang and sophomore Francesca Blume.
While the boys won 96-75, the girls fought
In addition, Dean took first in both the
for a 90-81 victory, their first in two years.
200 and 500 Freestyle, and Chiplis took first
The boys strugin the 200 Individual
Medley. Snail won
gled in the first half
the 100 Freestyle
to maintain their
and 100 Backstroke,
lead, ending 31-31 at
and Chang took first
the half. They took
in the 50 Freestyle.
a slight lead after the
diving events and
Swaney was exproceeded to secure
a comfortable 21tremely proud of the
point victory.
outcome of the meet.
Blair’s boys team
Many of the team’s
took five individual
top swimmers were
wins as well as first
at a swim meet for
place in the 400
the Rockville-MontFreestyle Relay with
gomery Swim Club,
a team of freshman
a private swim
Andrew McGehee,
team to which apjunior captain Robproximately 15 Blair
ert Feasley, junior
swimmers belong.
David Goode and
Silsbee, the divsenior captain Bryan
ing captain, was esErickson. Erickson Junior Nathan Yaffe comes up for air pecially proud of the
also took first in the from his breaststroke at the Dec. 3 meet female divers. “Our
100 Freestyle and against B-CC. Photo by Brandon Herbst
new girls did really
200 Freestyle, while
well,” he said. “It
Feasley took first in the 100 Fly. Sophomore was [junior] Nicole [Poor’s] first meet, and
Samuel Bullard-Sisken narrowly won first in she did really well and got second. She just
the 100 Backstroke by a .06-second margin. learned her inward dive this week.” The girl
Finally, senior diving captain Sam Silsbee divers took second and third place, while the
captured first place in diving.
boy divers took first and third.
The girls team took the lead in the first
Blair’s next meet will be at the Martin Luevent and never lost it. The girls took first ther King Swim Center this Saturday at 11:30
place in all but three events, but QO man- a.m. The Blazers will swim against the Blake
aged to take plenty of second and third plac- Bengals in their second divisional match of
es. The Blazers took first place in the 200 the season.
If you even know who Tony
Stewart is, then you know he was
this year’s NASCAR Nextel Cup
champion. Joe Gibbs, a man better
known in this area for being the
Washington Redskins’ head coach,
owns Stewart’s car.
Sadly, it looks as if Stewart will
be the only Gibbs franchise to win
a championship in 2005. I’m very
thankful that Gibbs has allowed me
to lose sleep on multiple Sundays
this year because of agonizing
losses. I’m sure that there must
be something good about feeling
depressed about a Tampa twopoint conversion attempt that cost
the Redskins a win. I just haven’t
figured it out yet.
What I have figured out is that
Ricky Williams is a genius. He
took a year off to smoke dope in
Asia, and now he’s starting at running back for the Miami Dolphins.
Maybe I’m missing the boat by going to college.
Then again, going to college
hasn’t stopped Onterrio Smith. He
promoted what should be the hottest-selling item among the drugtested set this December. In May,
the Minnesota Vikings tailback set
off the metal detector at the airport
because he had something called
“The Whizzinator” on him. The
Whizzinator is not only the greatest product name since “Mr. Potato
Head”; it’s designed to help athletes
pass drug tests. Apparently Smith
didn’t use it himself; he was suspended this season for breaking the
NFL’s drug policy a third time.
From Asian dope (Ricky Williams) to dope Asians (Yao Ming),
2005 was a year full of sports events
and characters to be proud of.
When you’re spending time this
winter with friends and family,
make sure to take a moment and say
thanks to all the athletes who made
this year entertaining; for better, for
worse or for Whizzinator.
Girls Basketball
The JV girls basketball team started
the season with a disappointing loss to
the Kennedy Cavaliers, ending the game
Even when the Blazers trailed the Cavaliers by more than 10 points, they kept
fighting. The Blazers managed to get
within two points of Kennedy with less
than two minutes left in the game, but
were ultimately unable to gain a lead.
Blair only led briefly in the first quarter, when captain Molly Martinez banked
a free throw, scoring the first basket of the
game and the only point for Blair in the
first quarter.
The Blazers began to heat up in the
second quarter, with point guard and top
scorer Kalisha Holmes leading the way.
“We weren’t in the game the first quarter,
but we came back because of Kalisha,”
said Martinez.
In the first half, the Blazers could not
sink their shots despite numerous attempts, earning only nine points at the
Though the team rallied in the second
half of the game, players and coaches said
they were discouraged by the loss.
Assistant Coach Ray Rodenberg attributed the disappointing showing
to poor shots, inadequate defense and
nerves. “Most of all, we got too nervous
in the first period,” he said.
The JV girls play Northwest next on
Friday, Dec. 16 at 5:15 p.m.
Senior Marvin Arnold attacked BCC’s Ivan Graham in the opening seconds of his match in tonight’s JV Wrestling meet between the Blair Blazers and
the B-CC Barons. Arnold pinned his opponent in the second period, and Blair
went on to tie B-CC 12-12 in the first meet
of the season.
In his remarks to the team, Coach Jake
Scott emphasized the importance of a
solid offensive in securing a win for Blair.
“All I’m looking for is aggressiveness,”
he said.
Though Arnold emerged triumphant
with a pin after three minutes and nine
seconds of wrestling, he was disappointed with the tied score. “We gave up
points that we shouldn’t have,” he said
after the meet.
In the second match, senior Monica
Maher dominated B-CC’s Kim Seibert.
Maher’s forceful take-down brought
Seibert to the mat, and Maher secured a
win by fall 50 seconds into the first period. Maher was pleased with the match’s
outcome. “It was a nice surprise,” she
However, Blair’s luck ran out in later
rounds. In the 140-pound weight class,
B-CC’s John Wilson pinned freshman
Eirene Dubuche, and the Barons’ Hugh
Kennedy pinned sophomore Noah Sennett in the 135-pound division.
Blair’s next match will be against Richard Montgomery on Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.
December 15, 2005
Why the pinstripes are fading to black
In the modern era of free agents and egotistical athletes, the sports dynasty is in decline
They grace soup cans and cereal boxes.
They sponsor shoes, cars, bubble-gum and
even grills that “knock out the fat.” They
can be heroes or villains, saviors or spoilers.
They can make — or break — the dreams of
thousands. They are the Joe Montanas, the
Wayne Gretzkys and the David Beckhams:
players who created some of the last great
dynasties in professional sports.
These athletes are some of the greatest to
play professional sports, and their teams are
despised to this day. Still, these dynasties are
some of the last we may ever see. Traditional
top-tier teams are falling, new teams are moving up and the empires of old are beginning
to crumble. The New York Yankees, Los
Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia Eagles have
shown that all good things must end. Free
agency, malcontent players, premature injury
and aging have all played roles in ensuring
that, while everyone will continue to hate the
Yankees, they may have less and less reason
to do so.
Money doesn’t buy happiness... or
The Yankees had some of their best teams
from 1996 to 2000. In fact, “Baseball Dynasties: The Greatest Teams of All Time” by Rob
Neyer and Eddie Epstein ranked the 1998
Yankee team in the 99.9998th percentile. So
who brought down a team that was so phenomenal? The same man who built it up:
principal owner George Steinbrenner.
New York was actually quite frugal during the late 90s, spending $60 to $70 million
a year. But as wins started dwindling, Steinbrenner became more involved in the team’s
signings. Starting in 2002, Steinbrenner began
coercing General Manager Brian Cashman to
sign aging, untested or continually injured
“stars” to large contracts, often with disastrous results. In starting pitching alone, the
Yankees signed Jeff Weaver, Jose Contreras,
Jared Wright, Carl Pavano, Jon Lieber, Kevin
Brown, Al Leiter and Randy Johnson. Every
single one of these pitchers failed to live up to
expectations and cost the franchise millions of
dollars. Last season, Wright, Pavano
and Brown had a combined record
of 13-18 and an average ERA of 5.78
while costing the team an astounding
$30.4 million, only $7 million less
than the entire payroll of the Tampa
Bay Devil Rays.
Where’s the fourpeat?
After winning their third straight
championship in 2002, it seemed that
nothing could go wrong for the Los
Angeles Lakers. The team had the
two best players in the league in Kobe
Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, who
together averaged over 52 points per
game. In 2003, the Lakers added Karl
Malone and Gary Payton and seemed
destined for a “fourpeat.” When the
team fell to the Detroit Pistons in the
finals, the loss set off a chain of events
that changed the face of the NBA.
Bickering between O’Neal and Bryant began. Bryant wanted the Lakers
to be his team and, using his leverage,
got O’Neal traded.
O’Neal went to the Miami Heat
and made them an instant contender.
Bryant received Miami’s scraps: forwards Lamar Odom, Caron Butler
and Brian Grant. Without a true
frontcourt, the Lakers fell apart, finishing
with a dismal 34-48 record and missing the
Today’s Lakers aren’t even the best team
in LA. Even the Clippers topped the Lakers 97-91 last month and now stand at 11-5,
compared to the Lakers’ 7-9.
Kobe thought that he was good enough
to decide the team’s future and has already
been proved wrong. In a world with superstar players, the best often overstep their
boundaries to disastrous effect.
T.O. takes a T.O.
No one knows this better than the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that ran through the
NFC East for years until this season. Between
2000 and 2003, the Eagles won 46 games, more
Graphic by Camille Mackler
than any other team in the NFL. The New
England Patriots, with all of their success,
won seven fewer.
Enter Terrell Owens.
Easily one of the game’s most talented
players, Owens piled up super-star stats
— and complaints — while in San Francisco.
The Eagles, desperate to win a championship, added Owens, believing that he was
the missing piece of the puzzle. The Eagles
kept winning during his first season, going
13-3, but once they lost the Super Bowl, things
went sour.
Owens began to publicly criticize McNabb
for his play during the Super Bowl. At the
start of the season, Owens continued to attack
the team and its coaching staff. Owens was
promptly suspended, initially for just a few
games, and then for the entire season. The
A sleeping giant awakens
Boys basketball outlasts Einstein for first victory
After a tough season-opening loss, boys basketball coach
Orlando Larracuente wanted
his team to play run-n-gun basketball. That’s exactly what it
did. From the tip, the Blazers
pushed the tempo, running a fast
break offense and pressure zone
defense, a strategy that led them
to a 76-72 victory over the Albert
Einstein Titans. The win was the
Blazers’ first of the season and
moves their record to 1-1.
Though it was an important
win, it wasn’t always pretty. The
two teams combined for 28 turnovers and one of 10 three-point
shooting in the first half.
The Blazers jumped out to an
early lead using a pressure zone
defense to force four turnovers,
translating into a 7-0 lead. Junior
small forward Larry Johnson took
advantage of the frantic Titans,
recording three first quarter steals
and finishing with a team-high
nine. Johnson explained his success, saying, “I just followed the
ball and read the offense. They
were nervous, and the pressure
we put on them helped a lot.”
Einstein roared back with an
8-0 run by matching the Blazers’
pressure and beating the defense
for easy lay-ups. The veteran
leadership of senior point guard
Petros Fentahun and back up junior guard Darius Smith calmed
the Blazers and led them to a 1913 lead at the end of the first quarter. Blair seemed under control in
a hostile environment.
The Titans forced a slower
pace in the second quarter, cutting Blair ’s lead down to one,
before, on a transition play fueled
by another Johnson steal, junior
Muhammad Roberson put in a
one-handed tip that brought the
visitors to their feet.
The Blazers went into the half
up by five but with plenty to work
on. Without scoring one threepoint field goal in the first half,
the Blazers came out early with
the intent of getting some shots
from outside.
Senior John Orr responded by
showing his range — he swished
four threes including two down
the stretch to hold off the advancing Titans. Orr ended with a
team-high 21 points, including 16
in the second half, and attributed
his success to preparation and
great passing by Fentahun.
Fentahun led the Blazers with
11 assists and was solid at the
point guard position all night
Even with Orr’s great play,
the Blazers broke down early in
the fourth quarter, allowing three
consecutive open lay-ups that
gave the Titans their first lead in
21 minutes with 6:37 left. The
two teams traded blows, neither
gaining more than a three point
lead until, with just over a minute
left and Blair down by two, Orr
drained two consecutive threes to
put the Blazers up by four. The
advantage would prove large
enough as the Blazers held off a
desperate Titan squad down the
Coach Larracuente cites this
outstanding performance as the
Blazers’ savior in an otherwise
poorly played fourth quarter.
“We were lucky down the stretch.
Orr hit threes to make up for the
team’s lack of discipline, which
was not conducive to success,”
Larracuente explained.
With 47 seconds left, the Blazers held off the Titans’ last push
with a free throw shooting from
Johnson and a key offensive
rebound by Roberson with 11
seconds to go.
Though happy with the victory, the Blazers weren’t completely
satisfied. Orr and Fentahun were
unhappy with the team’s defense
and overall continuity. “We need
to work on playing as a team. A
little more team chemistry and
respect will go a long way,“ says
The Blazers’ next home game
is tomorrow, Dec. 16, against
Eagles without Owens fell apart offensively
and are now mired in a 1-5 streak. The Eagles
don’t need to rebuild just yet, but from now
on, they must sign players who will contribute to the team both on and off the field.
The up-and-comers
The professional sports dynasty is no more.
Established, winning teams have fallen, and
the core reasons — star-searching front offices and power-hungry, disgruntled athletes
— are becoming more prevalent. With the
end of dynasties, every league has become
more balanced and competitive. Perennial
losers are finding success, and teams like the
Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors
and Atlanta Hawks have sudden winning
potential. Well, maybe not the Hawks.
Indoor track begins
The indoor track team competed at the Howard County/Montgomery County Track Challenge
held at the PG Sportsplex Dec. 10.
Blair excelled in the distance and
sprint medley relays, with the girls
placing third in the distance medley and fourth in the sprint medley.
The boys finished fourth in the distance medley and seventh in the
sprint medley.
All track events were relays,
completed by teams of four runners. The events ranged from a 55meter dash to a 1,600-meter dash.
The distance medley was run by
juniors Ashlyn Sinclair, Halsey Sinclair and Momo Reine and sophomore Johanna Gretschel. Their
third-place finish against 39 teams
clocked in at 13:27.8 minutes. The
boys, juniors Emmanuel Waktola,
Aaron Townsend and Josh Uzzell
and sophomore Nilan Schnure,
finished in fourth out of 44 with a
time of 11:52.6 minutes.
The girls sprint medley team
finished in 2:36.7 minutes, placing
fourth. The boys finished seventh,
running the event in 2:14.7 minutes.
Though the team did not perform as well in the other relays, new
coach Heather Amell is pleased
with the team’s effort. “I thought
we did really well, considering
that it was the first meet,” Amell
said. The team plans to practice
hard in preparation for subsequent
meets, working to improve baton
handoffs and pacing.
Sprinter Tommy Dugan agrees
that though the team had a good
start to the season, it still needs
more work. Still, he has high
hopes for the rest of the season.
“We had a great first meet. Compared to last year, our team made
great strides,” said Dugan. “If
we improve on handoffs and pick
up on times a little bit, our goal is
states this year.”
Sophomore Johanna Gretschel sprints towards the finish line at
the indoor track meet on Dec. 10. Photo by Rayna Andrews
December 15, 2005
Lady Blazers demolish the Titans
Varsity basketball stomps out Einstein with strong defense and balanced offense
Junior Ebony Winfield grabs the rebound in Blair’s first win of the
season against Einstein on Monday. Photos by Hannah Rosen
till stinging from an opening-day loss to Kennedy,
the Blair girls basketball
team used a quick start and
dominating defense to put their
disappointment behind them while
cruising to a 66-40 victory over Ein-
stein. The victory, the Blazers’ first
of the season, improved their record
to 1-1 and gave the girls a much
needed confidence boost heading
into a tough two-game road trip.
Einstein was overpowered from
the onset tonight, as Blair spurted
to an 8-0 advantage. The Titans
answered with three quick buckets
to move within two at 8-6, but Einstein would get no closer. Coach
James Mogge called a crucial time-
out to stop the bleeding, and Blair captain Jessica Dubose and freshresponded with a run that would man point guard Jenny Williams
bury the Titans for good. The Blaz- constituted the most noticeable
ers used a combination of pressure improvement in the offense. Mogge
defense, fluid fast breaks and a said the Blazers kept two guards
dominating post presence to spark behind the key all night to take
a 15-0 run that would span into the the pressure off of Williams, the
second quarter and build a comfort- principal ball handler, and create
able 17-point cushion at 23-6. After a more balanced attack. “We went
pulling away, the Blazers waltzed with two guards so we could enter
[the defense] from the left and the
into halftime with a 31-14 lead.
Blair continued to assert itself right. We emphasized balance on
into the second half, building a 30- the court,” said Mogge.
Williams responded with eight
point advantage after the third quarter. Defensively, Blair maintained points, four rebounds, four assists
an effective full court press. The and, most importantly, a dramatic
Blazers forced 39 Einstein turnovers decrease in mistakes. Williams
and never allowed the Titans to feel had trouble keeping the ball from
comfortable in
defenders in
their offensive
her first varscheme.
sity game but
looked comfourth quarter,
fortable in the
with the game
offense and
out of reach, the
very capable
Blazers empof feeding her
tied out their
teammates in
bench, and Einthe post.
stein crept a bit
closer, closing
Blair ’s press
the gap to 66was much im40 before time
proved. The
Blazers were
able to get
it was a comback and stop
plete effort for
Einstein’s fast
the Blazers,
break opportuwho received
nities, and their
pressure forced
guard play
from the for- Freshman Jenny Williams drives crucial turnovers. Mogge
ward position. quickly past an Einstein player.
said tonight’s
Senior co-captain Cate Rassman led Blair in performance allowed the squad
almost every offensive category, to believe in its newly instituted
getting her second double-double pressure defense. “We’re trying
in as many games with 22 points to emphasize defense this year,
and 11 rebounds. She was perfect and the more we practice the more
from the line, going eight for eight. comfortable we get. In the long run,
Rassman was also instrumental in using the press to force bad shots
involving her teammates, leading and turnovers is going to work.
They’re starting to believe it,” said
the Blazers with six assists.
The guard play of senior co- Mogge.
Giving thanks for 2005
see page 30
Columnist Michael Bushnell
discusses the most important
professional athletes of 2005.
Swimming races past QO
see page 30
The boys and girls swim
teams beat the QO Cougars
by scores of 96-75 and 90-81,
Photo by Brandon Herbst
The end of sports dynasties
see page 31
Columnist Jonah Gold examines the trends that have
led to the decline in sports
The road to the big leagues
see page 29
2002 Blair graduate Robert
Rifkin has taken an unusual
route to play pro baseball.
Blair hockey falls to the Barons
The Blair Community ice hockey team is not affiliated with or sponsored by the Montgomery Blair
High School athletic program or Montgomery
County Public Schools. The team is an independent group of Blair students.
Upcoming games
Home games are in bold.
Boys Basketball
12/16 vs. Northwest, 7 p.m.
Girls Basketball
12/16 at Northwest, 7 p.m.
Ice Hockey
12/16 vs. Damascus, 7:10 p.m.
Indoor Track
12/28 MCPS developmental
meet, 3:30 p.m.
12/17 vs. Blake, 11:30 a.m.
12/17 vs. Sherwood and Springbrook, 1 p.m.
Less than three minutes into the first
period, a Bethesda-Chevy Chase (B-CC)
player skated around the back of the net
and slammed the puck past junior Robbie
Ginsberg, scoring the Barons’ first goal of the
night. They kept up the pressure for the rest
of the game, demolishing the Blazers in a 7-0
shutout for Blair’s third loss of the season to
drop their record to 0-3.
Blair’s offense again struggled, taking only
17 shots to the Barons’ 54. B-CC ran a highly
effective trap defense that stifled Blair’s offensive attempts. Additionally, the Blazers
had difficulty completing passes and were
frequently forced to chase after stray pucks.
The difference in experience levels between Blair and B-CC was clear, as B-CC’s
seasoned travel players dominated on the ice.
The Barons maintained possession and kept
the puck on the Blazers’ end of the rink for
most of the game. “Our team is mostly new
kids, and B-CC has a lot of really experienced
travel players,” said Ginsberg.
The Barons grabbed the advantage early
with their third-minute goal and continued
to pressure the Blair defense for the rest of the
period. B-CC scored twice more in the first
period, repeatedly swarming the goal and
overwhelming the Blair defenders. Early on,
Blair was often unable to clear the puck and
muster any controlled offensive possessions
Senior Lee Shields shoots at the Paint Branch goal on Dec. 2. Photo by Nic Lukehart
on the Barons’ half of the ice.
B-CC played aggressively and physically
dominated the Blazers, getting in several
crushing checks. Despite their lack of offensive support, Ginsberg and senior Lee Shields
made a solid effort against the superior skill
and experience of the Barons. B-CC’s defense,
however, was able to severely limit legitimate
scoring opportunities for the Blair team.
In the second period, the Blazers stepped
up their aggression and began to skate toeto-toe with the Barons. The Blair forwards
had several opportunities to score but failed
due sloppy passing and setups, and the score
remained at 3-0 for most of the period. Near
the end of the period, however, B-CC scored
twice on successive breakaways to extend
its lead.
Blair continued to struggle in the last
period, as the Barons kept up the attack and
scored twice more, once on a power play. The
Blazers maintained the physical play from
the second period but still could not compete
offensively, finishing the game without scoring. Junior Lenny Slenkovich played well
on defense, helping to break up plays and
disrupt several dangerous situations.
While disappointed by the loss, the Blazers
are still satisfied with the effort. They also
saw clear room for improvement. “We played
good, but we could have played better,” said